This post is for everyone who is satisfied. Everyone who is not hungry for more. Everyone who thinks that what they have in life is enough. (…in contrast to my last post.)
The Bible says that we have been given everything that Jesus was and everything He walked in while He walked on Earth. (John 1:16)
I read this little story the other day, and it underscored to me just how very very much I am still missing out on.
That is from a book called Drawing Near by John Bevere, and he is referring to Colossians 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 5:3 where Paul talked about being with them in spirit.
For those who might wonder why I am sharing something from John Bevere again, I will share a little story of my own.
I grew up in church in the 1980s and 90s. I was hungry for God and had been filled with the Holy Spirit since third grade, but due to various things that were going on, I became extremely suspicious and skeptical of anyone who claimed to speak for God. Thus, at a very early age, that suspicion led me to decide that my Bible and the Holy Spirit were all that I needed to learn from God. I could trust the Bible, and the Bible said that the Holy Spirit was our teacher, and that was enough for me.
In the years since then up until this spring, I think I read fewer than five books by Christian teachers, centering my entire walk with God upon the Bible.
But then Covid-19 happened, and I received what for me was a sabbatical. A much slower life, far fewer distractions, and the prompting from God to fast from social media and the news.
First God allowed a lot of things buried inside of me to come up, and they were not pleasant. I repented, I surrendered, I surrendered some more, and I repented yet again of each new thing He brought before me that I had hidden deep inside. That brought freedom and joy and unbelievably rapid healing.
Then I walked again down to the end of the dead end country road near us where I like to pray, and I once again ‘had it out’ with God. (I am brutally honest with God.) I was challenging Him about the fact that Jesus said His sheep hear His voice, and I, even after over 30 years of being filled with the Holy Spirit and 19 years of trying to listen for His voice, still rarely recognized it. He had shown and taught me many many things over the years, but most had been enlightenment to my mind through His Word, rather than hearing His voice in a way that could be considered direction in my day-to-day life. So I pleaded with Him yet again!
He spoke. (I now understand that my fast and the way my life got slow for the first time in years is what enabled me to hear Him.)
One of the first things He said was that my determination to learn only from the Bible — once based on a legitimate fear of being misled — had become a source of pride in my life. He said, If you will allow Me to teach you through others, I can teach you the things you want to know much more quickly. You can trust Me that I will not allow you to fall into deception.
I said (after my jaw dropped maybe a little), “Okay then, Holy Spirit!”
I watched a YouTube series from Andrew Wommack on hearing the voice of God (which was enlightening), and I got some books from John and Lisa Bevere, one of which was that ^^ one. I have also listened to and watched many teachings from John and Lisa.
I am realizing that John and Lisa are modern-day Americans who are living like the Christians in Acts did. (Do you know how many times that I have asked God if that is even possible? Asking if that is what He is wanting to lead His church back into? Answer: a lot. So it is amazing to me to realize that not only is it possible, there are people who are living it right now!) So that is why I am learning so much from them right now, and why I am to eager to hear every story they share.
God has been very faithful to what He promised me that day at the end of the road, for I have learned and grown more in the last four months then I have in the last 6 years I think! And God speaks to me every day now. I am quite unsatisfied now if too many hours go by without hearing His voice! But that requires 100% obedience, I am discovering.
So this little section of this book is just one of the many examples that have shocked my mental awareness of what walking with God can actually be like in the 21st century.
I hope it shocked your mind as well. Why? Because Jesus said this:
You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
These were his words to the Church of Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3. The CHURCH. He was saying this to people who believe they are saved. Like me.
If the riches of His kingdom include things like what this minister from Africa considers a common part of being filled with the Holy Spirit — if the riches of God’s kingdom include having Him direct every step of our lives in a personal way so that everything we do is blessed because it is His directive — if the riches of His kingdom means walking in the empowerment that Jesus walked in according to John 1:16 — then many of us are indeed wretched and miserable and poor compared to the fullness that He rose to give us! We are blind to what we do not have. We are naked because we are not clothed with righteousness and power. I don’t want to be naked and poor and blind!
He said right before this, “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” I don’t know about you, but I do not want God to vomit me out!
I am not foolish enough to think that I can just assume I am safe from that. After all, the people He is speaking to think they are in a good situation. They think they are in a really good place in life spirtually, even though He says the reality is that they are about to get vomited out.
Does He say anything else about their problem? Yes, He does. He starts the passage out with, “I know your deeds.” In other words, “I know exactly how much you are and aren’t obeying Me in your actions.”
What was the recommendation that Jesus gave to us to remedy this situation? To avoid getting spat out?
He advises us to do three things. This is Revelation 3:18.
1. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich.
Fires are trials — difficult situations that He allows us to go through. God does not orchestrate sin or trouble, but He will use the sins of disobedient ones as the fire of purification in our own lives. (James 1:2-4) In order for us to ‘buy’ that gold, we have to stop fighting it. That’s what He’s saying here.
What does that look like? It means when people do things that harm me, instead of talking about how wrong they are and getting upset, I look to God and say, “God, what do You want to teach me through this? How can I grow through this? How can I draw closer to You through this difficult situation?” I must also choose to fully forgive them and bless them, as He commands. Otherwise the trial profits me nothing. But if I am willing for Him to teach me through it, then I will receive these spiritual riches!
2. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness.
White garments signifies righteousness. We are made righteous by our acceptance of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross (Romans 5:1), but that does not mean that we can do whatever we want just because we know we are forgiven. (Romans 6:1) God has prepared things for us to do, and He expects us to who in them! (Ephesians 2) This means obedience. We are commanded to forgive, so we must forgive. (Matthew 18:34-35) We are commanded to love, so we must love. (John 15:12-17) And love does not seek its own advantage. Love bears all things.
3. Buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
This is referring to our spiritual sight — the ability to see things for what they really are spiritually. This is the remedy for the blindness that He talked about earlier in this passage and that He also accused the Pharisees of having.
I believe this instruction to buy ointment is an instruction to spend time in our Bibles. Over and over and over and over again. The cost to buy this ointment is our time. Blindness is deception, and His word is truth. His word is the light to our path. (Psalm 119:105) When we read His word with a heart-willingness to be shown our error, we give Him permission to open our eyes and show us where we have been wrong. We demonstrate our willingness to receive correction so that we may repent. I like the example that someone gave comparing repentance to when your GPS says, “Recalculating directions to your destination. Turn around.” So you turn around.
Jesus goes on to say in this passage, “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” Other verses command the church to turn from its wicked ways, but I’m afraid that many of us relegate that term ‘wicked ways’ to things that we would never think of doing. In this passage, the ‘wicked way’ is indifference! Disobedience. Failure to submit to His direction and correction in the little things.
A day or two after I started hearing His voice more clearly, I went on another walk. As I started down the road, He said to get a trash bag and pick up the trash on the side of the road. I dismissed it, thinking that maybe it wasn’t Him and I could do it another time. Besides, I had never done that before. Wasn’t somebody else supposed to do that? (No wait, there is no one else who does that on country roads. Hmmm….) The more steps I took away from the house, the more I knew I was disobeying. So I went back for a trash bag, and God spoke to me with every piece of trash I picked up.
Walking in the power that the apostles had in Acts requires obedience in every little thing, especially when it’s a small thing, like when God tells me to pick up a cigarette laying on the side of the road. That cigarette is now of utmost importance to me!
So why did I start this post by saying it is for people who are satisfied?
Because I think that sometimes being satisfied is a very dangerous place to be. My last post was for all those who were not satisfied. Sometimes that is a better place to be!
I think that when we are seeking God, we have found that which truly satisfies, for it is Him… and yet we are not completely satisfied because we are always hungry for more of Him. We know that there is always more of Him, because He is infinite!
We are both satisfied and hungry at the same time.
Jesus ended the passage with an absolutely amazing invitation and promise!
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne.”
Won’t you open the door? Don’t you want to hear His voice? Would you like to get so close to Him that you’re victorious and sitting on His throne with Him?
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to Him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.