Where is there room enough inside me for God? How can I call God to me if He is already here? Where could I go in the universe so that God could leave where He is and come to live inside me? Where could I call God to, when I am already in God? Since God fills Heaven and Earth, do they hold all of Him? Or does He run over? Where does the overflow go? Do greater things hold more of God and smaller things hold less? I simplified the questions of St. Augustine, who lived seventeen hundred years ago in the 4th Century, from his classic work, The Confessions of St. Augustine. So, these are not new questions, but rather questions even philosophers consider.
God is so big that He fills the universe! He is bigger than Earth. He is bigger than our Solar System. He is bigger than our Milky Way Galaxy and bigger than even a cluster of galaxies. Francis Chan, the author of Crazy Love, talks about what he calls "the awe factor of God" in this three minute video.
A half-breed woman asked much the same questions of Jesus. "Where do I have to go to find God?" Jesus' answer was that God is a Spirit being. He is not contained in one place alone, but He is everywhere and obtainable by all...even those unaccepted by society. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24
On a more personal level, is God big enough to handle your problems? Is He larger than the grand scheme of your dreams? Can He guide the course of your career and the steps of your children simultaneously? Has it ever occurred to you that God is bigger than your budget, and when there's too much month left at the end of the money, there is still more of God's divine provision? Does He see in the dark, and in your heart? Can He hold you in your failures and in your triumphs?
In Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus talks about how to pray, "When you pray." His requests are simple and sums up the needs of man; God's will, our daily bread, a two-way forgiveness, and deliverance from evil. You can say all you need to say to God in a 25 second prayer. The problem is most of our prayers are too short. They never get to the beginning. Jesus' prayer began with faith..."Our Father who is in heaven..." Wow! He is our Dad and He is in Heaven! How lucky can we be?! We have an audience with the God of the universe and He is related to us. Talk about nepotism! Nepotism is defined as "favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit." That sums up our position, doesn't it?
What ever it is you need, whether you are unemployed, sick, scared, or need comfort in a loss you have suffered, when you pray... start with our Father who is in heaven. You will end up with more than you ever dreamed.
The following is a brief early morning sharing of Psalm 139:1-12 while having my morning coffee. I hope it blesses you in some way. Have a great day!
Job 9:8-12 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the
waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the
chambers of the south. Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and
wonders without number. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on
also, but I perceive him not. Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who
will say unto him, What doest thou?
Arcturus is the brightest star in the northern hemisphere and the fourth brightest star in the night sky.
Orion is the Hunter, and since it is over the equator, I could see it as easily from Kenya, Africa as I could from my yard now. It is one of the stick-figure like constellations that H.A. Rey of Curious George fame drew star maps from still in use today. I remember noticing Orion in the night sky as a child, since he is so easily recognizable among the constellations. The Pleiades is really a Star Cluster, or a Star Coud, the closest one to earth. The brightest 7 are easily visible to the naked eye and are named after 7 sisters in Greek Mythology.
It seems odd to me that Job would mention these three...just saying, you know? Bright star, clear constellation, and a lovely local star cloud. It makes you wonder about how much we have really learned in the ensuing years. The chambers of the south would most likely refer to the fact that the southern end of the galaxy is filled with stars, unlike "the empty place in the north." Our galaxy has an empty place as seen from earth...the north.
Job 26:7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
1. Who spread the heavens around the earth?
2. Who treads out the waves of the sea?
3. Who made the constellations?
4. How often has God walked right past me, without me seeing Him?
5. Is He here in the room with me now?
6. What are you doing God?
Ok, so that was one question too many. I can't ask that one can I?
The Man in the Myrtles in the first Chapter of Zechariah is a picture of the presence of God. God's presence is not something to be taken lightly, and He won't be found anywhere or in any fashion. Many people like the come as you are approach, and that's all true, because Jesus calls you from where you are to follow Him. But, at some point after the call, and before you experience the wind in your wings in your prayer life, you will find yourself dealing with some things in your life with God. Prayer Warriors are like those Women With the Wind in their Wings. They help carry away problems in prayer. I have seen times when I knew my freedom in the Spirit world was a direct result of the prayer of an elderly saint who had spent her lonely days praying for the people in the church. You can imagine the sense of freedom Zack felt, seeing the burden of sin being lifted off his people. Now, we know from this side of Calvary that Jesus died to have our sins imputed on the cross. Our sins are washed away by remission at baptism. But, after baptism, all that remains is for us to cry out to Jesus in prayer for the shortcomings of our life of grace.
But, Zechariah didn't jump from the presence of God experience with the Man in the Myrtles, directly to the release in prayer experience of the Women With the Wind in their Wings. There are three scenes enfolded between these two beautiful visions. The first is the vision of an angel sent to measure Jerusalem. In this vision, Zack shares God's call to come out from bondage and to rebuild Israel. Zack gets a real vision of what Israel can be in God's eyes, and how it will measure up to His standards in the end. I like the words where God says, "After the Glory!!"
Zechariah 2:8 For thus says the LORD of hosts; After his glory has he sent
me unto the nations which plundered you: for he that touches you touches the
apple of his eye.
God says, after the glory of your first experience with him, or after Zack's vision of God's glorious presence in the Myrtles, you are going to be mine.
The second scene beyond the Man in the Myrtle vision is a shocking vignette for me. Here Zack sees the High priest, a man named Joshua, facing off with Satan, which would be kind of like seeing your own Pastor facing Satan on your behalf. I think it ironic that Joshua is also the same name as Jesus in the Hebrew. Jesus is just a more modernized Aramaic form of Joshua. Jesus did face Satan on our behalf. But, back to the Pastor Joshua. The only difference here is that Joshua is not facing Satan. Satan is facing Joshua. Joshua has his eyes on an angel of God. Satan is standing to his right facing him, resisting Joshua, attempting to prevent Joshua from interceding on the behalf of the people...trying to stop this encounter with an angel. The reason I find this so shocking is the open conflict, or warfare. But, some things are worth fighting for. I've always been a runner in the past, avoiding a conflict. I try to face issues now. That's a good thing, I believe. We have to be able to set limits somewhere.
But, in this vision, God rebukes Satan and calls Joshua a "brand plucked out of the fire." Joshua is wearing filthy clothes. This is not surprising. Most Pastors have seen quite enough filth to shock the average person. They encounter a lot of "stuff" from dealing with each individual's problems. Joshua is given a change of clothing from God and Zack calls out for God to put a crown on Joshua's head as well. Then the angel of the lord begins to instruct Joshua on how to lead the people into restoration with God, because God is planning on sending a Messiah out of Israel. (They're told to clean this dump up, because a Messiah can't come out of a dump.)
The third vision from the Myrtles gets a little more ethereal, or other worldly. As a matter of fact, every time I look at the page, I want to just skip past this chapter because it belongs in the book of Revelation. Of course, it belongs right where it is, and God has a revelation of His Spirit for me right here and now. We don't have to wait for heaven to experience God's Spirit.
In this vision, the angel has to wake Zack up because he has fallen into a deep sleep. The angel shows Zack a Golden Candlestick and two olive trees, which represents God's Spirit burning inside their King Zerubbabel, who would lead them in their rebuilding efforts. (See, I told you it sounds like something out of Revelation :)
Zechariah 4:6-7 Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is
the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by
my spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? before
Zerubbabel you shall become a plain: and he shall bring forth its headstone with
shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
Oh the beauty of god's grace that allows a filthy people to be called clean to stand before His Spirit! The Man in the Myrtles, the angel measuring to rebuild Jerusalem after the glory lost, Satan rebuked from the children of God as they are given clean clothes and crowns, the flowing of the olive oil of God's Spirit through the candlestick, and then the Women with the Wind in their Wings carrying off the wickedness of God's people; all of these five visions together form a prescription for those who want to encounter the presence of God in their own lives... for those who want to rebuild on a foundation of God's Word.
It seems all you have to do to hear from God is to ask Him to speak. Pick any four pages in the Bible, and you will find something to speak to your life from God. It's no wonder the Bible has been preserved through the centuries. God's Word is so easy to love. It is like feasting at a banquet table.
Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner
over me was love.
Zechariah had visions and messages from God, though it is obvious he had to be prodded at times by the Spirit, and not just "moved." He was awaken out of a deep sleep after a couple of visions, and then had to be told to pay attention during another vision. But, I wouldn't say he was Spiritually sluggish or even not Spiritually fit. He most likely felt overwhelmed himself by the things he was hearing from God. Don't we all feel that way at times when God speaks?
In the first chapter of the book by Zechariah's name, there in the Old Testament, Zack tells the story in the first chapter of his first vision. It happens on the 24th day of the 11th month, which on the modern calendar would be...my birthday :) But, this is the Jewish calendar, and quite a few hundred years before I was born. Zack saw a man riding on a red horse standing among the Myrtle trees there in the bottom land. The man was a Spirit, an angel, and behind him were other riders on paint horses. Zack asked the angel who these angels were and was obviously wondering where they were going. The angel told him that they were on a reconnaissance mission from God. Then the re-con angels gave their report to the Commanding angel, reporting that they had checked and the whole earth was at rest. By rest, we see in the next few verses that the angel is referring to a state of ease. The heathen nations had taken God's people captive, where they had been for years, and now they were content and secure in the fact that they held God's people spoiled. The enemy felt comfortable in all the havoc they had caused- No problems - Secure in war - at peace.
Zechariah 1:12-13 Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of
hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of
Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?
And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and
The commanding angel then calls out to God directly, asking God the same question we want to ask in the face of oppression. He asked how long God was going to sit still and allow His people to suffer, without mercy. Zack does not tell us that God was present. He does not mention God being there in the Myrtles, before the commanding angel asked God what the plan was. Apparantly, God was there all along, before the army of angels arrived to report. It seems that Zack had been praying, and God gave him this vision to remind him that there was a time limit to the trial. God answered that the nation of Israel was to be restored now, after the 70 years of captivity...just like Job was restored. His trial had a time limit. In this case, God let Zack know that the captivity was coming to an end.
This is a remarkable picture of God's presence. When I see Myrtle Trees, I think of Zechariah's vision, and remember that God was with Zack, when the angels showed up to report to God. They had to come to Zack's house to talk to God. Imagine that! "Forward my calls to Zack's house for the next hour. "Can you hear God telling the angels that? "Hello, God...come on in. I was just making a cup of tea...sit a spell."
The Katinas, Still CD, track 3: Someone is Praying for You (now playing)
Woke up feeling much better today, on all counts. I'm sure somebody must have been praying because I was able to eat dinner #1 around 10pm and dinner #2 after Larry got home at 2:30 am. I was glad to wake up today and be able to climb out of bed minus the agony.
Prayer has an amazing effect in more ways than can be measured. The obvious effect is that heaven hears and moves in response to prayer. It is obvious throughout Scripture that we have the unexpected ability to move the gates of heaven and hell with our prayer. I say this is unexpected because who would have thought that God would have been interested in what we have to say? It really is quite unthinkable that we can sway such a powerful omnipotent being, who is holy and omniscient. Yet, there He is...and He is listening.
But a less than obvious effect is often the encouragement we feel just in knowing that another human being knows and is praying for us. This can be a very comforting thought. A dear friend Kate passed away several years ago. She was half blind and in bad health but, when I went in her house late in the evening sometimes, I could tell that the accumulated time that she had spent praying throughout the day had literally filled her living room with a glow, a living presence of the Spirit. It didn't seem that saturated earlier in the day when she was moving around doing chores, and feeding herself. But, in the evenings she sat in her chair and prayed, talking in tongues. In the evening, it was like the feeling of the Spirit was so thick you could "cut it with a knife" as the expression goes. I know I was comforted to know I was on her prayer list.
We had few pictures of Kate (on the right) to my knowledge. She let me take this one after church with Lettie after I drove her to church one day. The picture was of very poor quality because it was with a minicam. So I textured it to cover the camera flaws. Both were wonderful ladies and both are missed. Both were prayer warriors. I learned through my friendship with Kate that God is not in the business of making sweet elderly saints. He makes babies to replace these dear souls, and we have to grow them from scratch. So, take your time with that baby in your arms, it may be a future prayer warrior.
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine
uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my
lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word
in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me
behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful
for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art
there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of
the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy
hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness
shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth
not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are
both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me
in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully
made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My
substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously
wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance,
yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in
continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How
precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If
I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am
still with thee. Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me
therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine
enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and
am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect
hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me,
and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in
the way everlasting. Psalms 139:1-24
The song of your presence. I memorized the first twelve in high school, stirring the words around and around in my head until they were mixed throughly with my soul. Lucky for me. Where would I be if I had left school without them? I packed my bags and headed out into the world at seventeen, just after graduation, sure you were with me, "sitting behind me and before me, and walking all around me." The first year I spent in Brunswick...below the gnat line :) God, I was sure I had made my bed in hell, and there you were.
Later in college, listening to the astutely ignorant, I began to realize that the knowledge of you is so wonderful to me; it is high, I could not reach your wisdom from the college classrooms. Truth was to be found in Your Word alone. My professors were searching for truth, but they had not yet found it.
When they laid my baby in my arms, and I counted each finger, and reveled in the delightful sounds coming from those lips, I marveled because he was fearfully and wonderfully made. The words rolled off my tongue from the Psalm that had become a part of my chemistry, my makeup.
Just off the coral reef of Kenya, snorkeling in the ocean, I saw all the colorful fish, shells, and living things you had created, and remembered these words..."If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea." Or was it the wings of a jet, and the depths of the Indian Ocean?
Waking up in the recovery room after surgery, waiting on the doctor to be found to sign the unsigned orders for the morphine he had ordered, everything in me begged for those words, but my brain couldn't produce them. Lost in pain, and unable to see what was going on around me, I asked for someone to read me the Bible. They found "George" who knew some of the Lord's Prayer, but had never heard of Psalm 23, and certainly not 139. It didn't help. I was beyond comfort, because I couldn't see the words in my head. Satan stole the words in those hours of anesthesia. Betty the home visit nurse came to change my bandages. I was in a fog. But, I asked her to read the Psalm for me. As she read those words from my Bible, I marveled that I had awaken in pain, trying to remember those words, for when I awake from surgery, "I am still with you."
Now God, as I look back through these words, words that have comforted me for 30 years, I realize one thing. You know me. You have searched my heart. You who has held my central nervous system (my reins) in the palm of your hands, You know me better than I know myself. And, even when I can't remember the words, I know you will remember me.
Adam and Eve, by Gustav Doré
Genesis 2:21-23 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
This is my favorite Gustav Dore print. And the following print would be a close second...
Cain Kills Abel, by Gustav Dore
Genesis 4:6-8 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
What makes them both so beautiful is the candidness of the scenes. You feel as if you are actually an unseen observer, watching each of the events take place. You see the sleep that has overtaken Adam. You see the depravity that has overtaken Cain. You can almost see the Spirit of God hovering over these events, watching them take place. You can see the Spirit in the print. It is drawn from the perspective of God. You have a God's -eye view. (These scripture prints, and many others are available on the Visual Bible software, which is downloadable free online. )
It is the feeling that what took place here happened with or without an observer, that is so striking. The interplay of light and darkness speaks volumes in both works. In the Adam and Eve scene, the light in the background penetrates the darkness surrounding the first man and woman. In the Cain and Abel print, it seems as if the light from the streak of lightening lines Abel's fallen body. And, it is clear that the lightening is the Spirit of God and His attention to the deed, while the light lining Abel's body is the life in his blood crying out to His Maker. We are made in His image afterall. Light calls out to Light amidst the darkness.
This attention of God is present in both works. God attends to the needs of His creation in the first. God hurts with His creation in the second. God felt Adam's and Abel's pain. the Maker responded. He is not a grand puppetmaster, pulling all the strings, while we dance to His controlled, measured tune. He sees and reacts to man. It seems from Gustave Dore's work that the Creator is intimately interested in the life of the created. That is a fact that can not be escaped throughout the whole of Scripture. God cares for you, just as in the day that He created you.
There is no glory for those who barricade themselves from the storms of life. If we never had a worry, a concern, a crisis, a struggle, then we would lead a rather dull existence. Ezekiel said, "And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire engulfing itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of its midst as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire." Ezekiel 1:4 Just so, we will never see the glory of God if we turn and run from storms. Ezekiel saw the whirlwind coming toward him and his people. We always notice storms coming don't we. They are so obvious, not tactful at all. I am sure all the other slaves working along the river bank were running for cover by this point. But Ezekiel begins to stare into the whirlwind, seeing a great fire in its columns, and its burning brightness. I can imagine him surrounded by flying debris, clothes being blown about him, standing there staring at the face of this storm.
Then, incredible things began to happen. He saw four living creatures... angels... coming out of the storm cloud. Then the wheels in the middle of the wheels appeared. Then lastly, He saw the glory of God Himself on the throne. It is only when you can see God in the midst of your disaster that your storm clouds will open and the glory of God's providence will appear, and His sustaining hand will lift you off the ground, where you have been beaten beyond your ability to stand. It is when we face the storm that we find ourselves transported... "Ezekiel 3:14 So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me."... transported from our "great river" of pain. Transported outside of ourselves. Chebar, Ezekiel's river where he worked on the "chain gang" simply meant "great." Ezekiel was transported to a place where he could see the "big picture" and God's purpose, not only for his life, but for the lives of his people. Then his river became nothing in his mind, but the greater purpose of God became everything.
But, what sets Ezekiel apart from his contemporaries was the fact that he knew that the storm came from God. And, instead of running from the storm, he turned to face it, looking for God in the midst of the storm. That storm you are facing, God not only knows about the clouds of fear and doubt surrounding you, but He is in the middle of it all. Matthew 17:7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. Did you ask to see or feel God's presence? Did you ask if he was real or substantive? Did you wonder where God was? There He is.
"I AM," said God to Moses. And, that great I AM applies to God's children as well. I AM a Child of God. I belong to Him and that makes Me a daughter of the King. If you have been reading the Gospel According to Me, then this is the sequel for you.
Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the LORD that created you, O Jacob, and he that formed you, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine.
Here we have God saying "YOU ARE." Knowing God means knowing who you are to Him and in Him. You see, nothing that I was before God matters, because it no longer exists. God has forgotten everything. This is why I can know that I am a wonderful creation of God.
Micah 7:19 ...and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Sometimes we feel so far away from the God who came to earth to be nearer to us. That is unneccessary. All it takes to feel His presence is to realize who you are. An important man may be a corporate giant, or a heavyweight champ that men feel small in the presence of, but ironically, when their small daughter enters the room, that giant becomes a gentle Father. And, the smallest daughter will breeze into her dad's office without trepidation or hesitancy. She knows who her Dad is and all of the roles that He plays are nothing like the role of Daddy to her.
I've heard it said that God has no Grandchildren. That is a profoundly true statement. Do you realize that you came to God on your own two feet. No one else allowed you into His presence, but God Himself was inviting you to come to Him. It's not about who your parents are. It's all about you. Listen to Jesus' words to Nathanael.
John 1:48 Nathanael said unto him, Where do you know me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.
On the surface, it looked to Nathanael as if He was only there on Philip's call. But, Jesus is letting Nathanael know that He was the originator of the call. Jesus wanted Nathanael to follow Him. Yes, you are God's child because He purposefully invited you into His kingdom. He does that for us each and every one, because he created each of us. He knows us as a father knows His children. All of this makes you special to God. It certainly makes you special to Satan, who is jealous of our position a little lower than the angels, and above the animals; yet we are God's children. Satan can never occupy that spot, he never could. And, now, we will occupy eternity with God, while satan occupies eternity in hell. There is nothing Satan can do to stop our future. Only we have that power. We were created in God's image, and that image entitles us to certain inherited rights of birth. We look just like our Daddy. Everytime Satan sees our faces, he cringes. Yes, I Am special.
Hold onto the Gospel that holds onto you. You are unique in all of creation, because God made you.