Many of us on this planet have certain common long and short term concerns. Those who have been called by God to come out of the thinking and lifestyles of the world often have difficulty in reconciling our concerns with those of the Lord Himself. After many years I have become persuaded that God does care about the things that trouble us in our daily lives. How great is His love and patience for us to finally come to the conclusion that all of our spiritual, emotional and physical needs are truly fulfilled in Him!
Oh how we all need to focus more on Him! This is an area where Christians often fail, much to the rejoicing of our enemies. They know that when we finally realize the power of simple, pure devotion to God, we will not be stoppable!
The purpose of this message is to share some understanding of God and His eternal purpose, that has helped me greatly in allowing Him to return to the center of my life. The hope is that when you consider and meditate in these truths, your life will then be seen as part of a more wonderful and greater whole. Then the past, present and future will begin to connect, and the patterns of our daily lives can develop deeper spiritual meaning.
The great Creator, the God of the whole universe, has always been the God of now, but we can only begin to appreciate that fact as we come to know Him in the present. 4000 years ago, Moses knew the God of now, or the Great I AM, through the law that descended from Mount Sinai. Many others would later testify of the life that the law breathed into them in those days. In my day, however, God is not present in that old covenant system. I can only find the God of today in the location of time and space that I find myself in.
THERE IS A TIME AND A PLACE…
Road maps have been helpful to mankind since their invention. Their purpose is to aid the user in arriving at their destination. The first thing that must be done, however, is to find our present location on the map. We must look for a street sign, landmark or anything we can find at that location, which has a corresponding spot on the map. Have you ever appreciated the red mark found on shopping mall maps that brightly indicate, YOU ARE HERE?
After finding our location on the map, we can then begin charting a course to our destination. With the help and direction of the Holy Spirit, I sincerely hope that together we can begin to understand, first, what our destination in the plan of God is, then to find out where we are now in that plan. With that we can all begin moving towards that destination together for His glory. Becoming ever more conscious of His eternal purpose in our daily lives, we can then begin to know Him in His eternal Now.
In the dark ages, a scientist named Copernicus made a discovery. He learned by an honest and thorough investigation of the facts that the earth was not the center of the universe as was previously believed. Upon receiving this revelation, everything else began to fall into place. He could then more easily and accurately chart the courses of all the planets, their moons, and our relationships with the stars. Think of it. Our current explorations of the moon and space would have never been possible without this knowledge. The heart of this revelation was, of course, that the sun is the center of this solar system, with the earth and the other eight planets revolving around it.
It is time for mankind, and even for Christianity, to come to the conclusion that the universe does not revolve around us. God is, has been, and always will be the center. When we begin to see this, everything begins to harmonize and work together in perfect order. For thousands of years we thought it was about us, our sin, our salvation, our peace, security and happiness. Even though these concerns are legitimate, the focus will be entirely wrong when man is at the center.
With man, the story begins at the fall, and the focus becomes redemption, salvation, restoration etc. All of these are crucial elements in God’s design, but it seems so natural for the focus to become fixed on us and our needs, rather than on God and His Glory.
THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE
As a boy, I grew up in relative poverty, and worshiped with other Christians who struggled financially. In time a certain subconscious thinking in me began to equate poverty with holiness. While in my thirties, I began to see the bondage I was in, and began to believe God for a better economic situation for my family. Prosperity did come, almost immediately, but I never desired to set my eyes on these material blessings. My deliverance was found in seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and in allowing Him to add the rest.
When I began to listen to the prosperity message as it was being preached on the radio and television at that time, there were certain disturbing elements that I could not get a handle on. Now, as I look back, I realize that most all of it was man centered. The glory of God was not the focus at all! I want you to know that God can often get more glory out of someone who lives a bare existence materially, when they are rich in the graces and the attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ!
In the beginning God! At the ending, God again becomes all-in-all! And when He is at the center of our being, it is always God for us during the time in between! In the map analogy that I used earlier, no one would simply take the map and just study it and rejoice that they possess it. Neither would they sit and dream of the wonderful destination and the pleasures they would enjoy when they get there. No, you take the map, find which turns to take and begin your journey. On this journey, you may stop and eat or re-fuel, make conversation on the way, or listen to music, etc. All the while you are conscious of where you are going, but also always aware of where you are now.
Some people like to sing about living for the moment, but often what they are really doing is squandering precious moments of the life that has been given to them by God. On the journey that we have been speaking of there is abundant life to be received, as well as to be poured out towards others. When our focus begins and ends with God, our resources never run out! But when our focus is on ourselves, the troubles never end. Life becomes an endless cycle of ups and downs. Survival becomes primary, even for very faithful churchgoers.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY!
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians. 3:8-11).
In any careful study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, one should readily see a certain emphasis. The first emphasis is that God has a plan for His people and His creation. Secondly, He requires our participation in that plan. Listen to me very carefully. Wherever you fit into that plan will be where the I AM lives to you, for you and through you! Do you want to live in the past, the future, or NOW? Just wait a minute, all of these are connected, they integrate into one harmonious whole — in the mind of God. Now He is desiring to share the mystery of His will with you, that you can begin to really live today!
You see, there is a fellowship in this mystery! That word is koinonia in the Greek and it means voluntary participation. You have a part to play in the glorious, mysterious, eternal plan of God! Our human imaginations can scarcely comprehend the awesomeness of this mystery: “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” (Ephesians. 1:10), but Paul prayed that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened that we might know these things! (Ephesians. 1:17,18).
As we stand back with a wide-angle lens and view the over-arching purpose of God, we see how all things began in God and all things find their consummation in Him. (Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians. 15:28). But when we zoom in to see the working out of that plan, we see God working through people, namely us! (Romans 12:1, 2; 2 Tim. 1:9,10; Ephesians. 2:10).
In the eternal purpose of God, we find many separate, but connected events. But to God they are all part of a wondrous whole. None of them are the end, only the means to an end:
In the beginning God
The Creation. Let us make man in our image!
The fall of man
The redemption of man:
The death and resurrection of Christ
The birth of the church in power, demonstrating the nature of the Kingdom of God
The present restoration of the church, with all her spiritual gifts and ministries in a loving community under Christ her Head
The universal revelation of the Kingdom of God in all the earth through Christ. Mankind expressing Christ, the very image of God
The kingdom surrendered to God, that God might be all in all.
Now it is time for us to pick up the map, unfold it, and find our present location.
YOU ARE HERE!
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NASB)
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans. 12:6-8 NIV)
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians. 12:27)
By zooming in to the current stage of God’s plan we find a people that have been made alive in Christ. They are individuals but not working independently. They are each part of a greater body, the body of Jesus Christ. When every member functions, the whole body grows steadily and healthily unto the fullness of Christ’s stature, unto the glory and praise of God!
Next let us take the close-up lens and focus on each member. Notice how each one is vitally connected to the head, namely, Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord of all! Then examine the connections between each member of the body. See how closely they interact and support one another! Observe the knitting of each joint and sinew, every bone and muscle. Notice how important it is for every cell in every organ to be healthy and at work, that the body can stand up and fully represent God in the earth!
Let me ask you a question. Do you really want to live NOW? Do you want to see the I AM in reality, every day of your life? Then begin right now to let go of your egocentricity. Begin to realize that you are a small but integral part of a glorious whole! This thing is so much bigger than you and I, than my church – your church! This is not really about you and I at all! It is about God! It is about the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending, the first and the last – the Great I AM!
Become swallowed up in the powerful significance of Him, and revel in the insignificance of your little world! Then in surrender to the destiny He has chosen for you, give yourself to the spiritual gifts that are within you by virtue of His matchless Grace! Pray with others and for others and rejoice in discovering the wonders of the Christ within every one!
Participate with God by communing with Him, sharing with Him your cares and dreams, and responding to every subtle direction of His Hand! Think of it! We are workers together with God, that all men might see and know the fellowship of the mystery of His will! Live today! Be a part of it!
On a personal note, I would like to share a portion of my journey with you. For decades now, many of my brethren and I have had the vision of God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. For many years we sang songs about it and preached sermons to one another to keep the vision alive.
Today I want you to know that something has happened to me to completely change my thinking and my life. I no longer need to hear those sermons to keep the vision alive. I am now living in it! I am no longer a passive observer, watching life pass me by, continuing to hope that some day the change will come. Now I am a participant. God is right now! He is present in my ups and downs, my heartaches and discouragements, my songs of praise and joy! Even more importantly, He is present when I am lifting up another wounded and hurting soul!
No longer do I sit and wait for the rapture or other mighty future event to come. Neither do I fill my days with things to pass the time. We are redeeming even the time, reclaiming it for the greater glory of God! We all have great and important things to do, each with eternal significance! These include: rejoicing with them that rejoice, weeping with them that weep, letting our light shine among men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven! Some others are: baby sitting our grandchildren, writing letters to the brethren, calling up the lonely and forgotten on the phone, building up the body of Christ, helping a family move, etc., etc.
Take this challenge. Make a list of the things that God has blessed you to do for others. Continue to do them even more for the satisfaction of the Father’s heart. Realize that this is living in the Great I AM, the God of now, and is part of His glorious plan to unite all things in Christ. As you give yourself to hearing and responding to His Sweet Voice, what life you will find! What freedom from selfishness and self-centeredness! What God consciousness! Then behold as His kingdom expands and His Truth extends to the ends of the earth, for it has already begun in you!