Tuesday, September 12, 2017

An Unexpected Discipline - Revelation from God

All Christians want a word from God.  We know that the Bible supplies us with His most clear Word, yet in the nuances of life, we want specific revelation.  “Just tell me what to do, Lord, “ we pray.  We want something of God’s truth that is suddenly clear, revelatory, new, or strong as it applies to our situation. We look for it; we wait for it.  The discipline to seek, find and apply is traumatic sometimes.  Yet, the staggering potential for a person to live in conscious awareness and interaction with God requires a discipline to have the “ears” to hear and the heart to honor and act on a revelation from God is the only way to live.  And to be able to hear the voice of God and distinguish it from all other voices, especially our own, is the heartfelt desire of those truly seeking.

The Bible is our first and foremost helper in this task.  We can learn to recognize and interact with the concrete presentation of a word from God, enlivened and empowered by His Spirit.   To lay hold of Biblical truths and apply them is the place to begin to see the validity and availability of the movement of God, whether we deal with ourselves or the world.  

The Bible also gives then gives us extra-biblical clues as to other places to access God’s revelation. 

Romans 1:20 says that nature/creation reveals the great, general truths of God.  To sit in creation's presence, to contemplate nature’s point to the Creator is a basic even the untrained scientist can appreciate.  Then to look for nature's metaphor as an application to our own lives requires a student’s hunt for truth.  I remember when I was in the middle of decision-making in a life change, that I retreated to a summer hill, buried in the foothills of central Ohio.  There the trees and the fields provided more than just an assurance, but also a representation of what it meant to move on to the next level.  That decision could be guided not just by the path I left behind, but the unknown path ahead.  As I was assured of my destination, I realized the path to it could be managed because it was just trees, hills and fields.

John 3:26-36 points to the teaching of valuable teachers, which can contain revelation from God.  This is John the Baptist’s discourse confirming Jesus as the Messiah.  Essentially, John tells his disciples how to recognize, as he does, that Jesus is the coming One: that Jesus’ teaching and baptizing is the sign that he is from God and to believe what he says.  This great teacher, John the Baptist, diminishes his role and increases Jesus’.  It is the sign of a Spirit-led teacher, to give credit where credit is due by giving honor to Jesus as the Son, then their word becomes merited as revelation.

Then Paul gives us one of the most revolutionary chapters in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.  He teaches how our spirit interacts with God’s Spirit for knowledge of the great things of God (verse 10), even to the point that he declares, “for we have the mind of Christ!” (verse 16) It’s a daunting truth. It’s an unexpected discipline to let ourselves in on this truth:  to trust God with our mind.  Yet, I think most seeking Christians have had truths revealed in mind and spirit - that place of knowing - and then their testimony lived out becomes an affirmation of God's truth. 

Think for a minute about the truths God has assured you of, whether through trial, test, enlightenment, teaching or fellowship.  Here are mine:

  • I cannot sin and expect blessing from God.
  • ·God is quick to forgive.
  • ·The Holy Spirit is alive and available to me.
  • ·Jesus is enough for me.
  • ·The community of God is life-giving.
  • ·Being led by God requires trust and going into the unknown.
  • ·God is right. (duh!)
  • ·God will fight battles for me and with me.
  • ·The Bible contains all the truth I need.
  • ·The Psalms contain all the wisdom I need.
  • ·God’s people are everywhere!
  • ·Marriage is sacred and wonderful!
  • ·Work’s success defined by God may not look anything like worldly success.
  • ·God is generous with the generous.
  • ·God is the best Daddy I ever had!!
  •  Today only makes sense in light of heaven tomorrow.

These seem obvious, but their deep trueness is embedded in my heart as God let them be lived out in me.  It’s an unexpected discipline to allow those Truths to penetrate my life such that I can be helped, healed and led. 

There is another way God reveals Himself and His truth:  through silence.  I know people often just want something from God – even if it is “no.”  It is a discipline to understand and recognize God’s silence for what it is.  It is a heavy discipline as the silence can cause us to scream in anguish or retreat into our own silence, but I think it is a way for God to draw us close so that we can really hear what He has to say.

We may need to grapple with the truths He has already presented (Ps 46:10).  Silence may also be the chance for us to willingly submit (Ps 4:4). (Ps 37:7)  It may be the quiet which allows us to be brought “safely into harbor.” (Ps 107:30)  It may be the place where the firestorm of other voices are finally quieted so we can discern the still, small voice of God.  Through this, we will know His voice and be able to distinguish it from all other “strange” voices, even our own.  

Sometimes, too, when encountering a great Truth from God, we may find our shallow peacefulness disturbed.  The noise we create around us can dull our sense to the greater need in ourselves.  How often have I, in such moments, cried out loud some inner truth I did not know was hiding there!  

Thus, silence is not absence, but “room” for God to accomplish what he is doing in us. 

It’s an unexpected discipline to stay present for all places of revelation from God.  I can do it, though, because of Jesus’ great assurance in Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always…” which is just as true today as when he first said it.  I love the discipline of releasing myself into that truth.

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