♣ Calling Glory Out of Waste
GOD, IN HIS sovereignty, has each one of us, who love Him, in the place where He wants, even to include the consequential circumstances of our failings and foolish mistakes. God knew all about us before the existence of this world; He knew every weakness and all our proneness to sin when He purchased us through the blood of His Son; His omniscience has already scanned the sin we are yet to commit – yet, in His faithfulness and without a shadow of turning, He is ever fully committed to gloriously completing the work in us He foreordained before man was created.
The majority of believers are more accustomed to quoting Philippians 1:6 “…He Who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” – than 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and souls and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He Who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” The latter verse expounds on the former. “He Who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” There is a verse packed with promise, an oath that cannot be broken. It is God Who continues to perform His work of salvation in our hearts. John Gill, in his commentary on this verse, wrote, “‘Faithful is He that calleth you.’ Into the fellowship of His Son, and to His kingdom and glory, and Who continues to do so, not only externally by His Word, but internally by His Spirit and grace. ‘Who also will do it.’ Two things the apostle mentions as the ground of confidence that the above petition, would be heard and answered; that is, that God would Wholly sanctify them, and preserve the whole of them blameless to the coming of Christ; and they are the faithfulness of God, and the effectual calling of his saints. God is faithful to His Word, His covenant and promises; He has promised to sanctify and cleanse His people from all their sins, and to preserve them safe to His kingdom and glory; agreeably the Arabic version renders this last clause, ‘and will execute his promise’: and the effectual calling is a sure pledge of glorification; whom God calls He justifies and glorifies; as sure as He gives grace, He will give glory; and whom He calls to His eternal glory, He will make perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle.”
As heirs of God, we can be sure of His discipline when we pursue our natural bent (flesh) of indwelling sin. David said “It is good that I have been afflicted.” Despite his intentional adultery with Bathsheba and premeditated murder of Uriah, David was a man after God’s own heart, but only by God’s grace. Had God withdrawn His restraining influence, David’s destiny would have concluded like Saul’s. God’s mercy pursued David all the days of his life and evidenced itself through his brokenness, contrition and thirst for God. Indeed, God’s kindnesses led David to a lifelong repentance and is that not the same with us? Can we not recall, without number, the times we have been conscious of God keeping us, intervening and leading us in His paths of righteousness away from our paths of error?
We may not clearly discern God’s sovereignty in our circumstances that seem an absolute waste, where no good appears to be afforded, especially when we face the consequences of our sin, just as David suffered his. Our circumstances, for a time, may be of a very bland nature, where nothing but the mundane lies waiting every morning we wake up. Because we see no immediate purpose amidst our situation, it is not easy to maintain focus; we have but the simple duties that beckon us on. Yet, God’s grace abounds for us even when we feel our sins have gone over our heads. We may not feel it; we may doubt its work in our hearts, but the truth of Scripture states that sin shall not have dominion over us for we are now under the domain of grace (Romans 6:14). God, in His wisdom, will sometimes allow us to wonder so far that we despise sin with a deeper vehemence and walk closer to the Shepherd of our souls. “All things work together for our good” – what, even our falling into sin?! The good that comes out of it is to distrust ourselves and trust Christ with all of our hearts; it is to lean heavier on the God Who has performed our salvation; it brings a greater realisation of what He has accomplished for us; it is to know the hearts depravity so that the weight and gravity of God’s grace is realised in greater measure. Rather than sin all the more, we inevitably desire to please Him. “…everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). It is God’s irresistible grace that moves us to work out our salvation He has already worked in us.
This is what God is after – that we work out what God has already worked in us. God desires that the truths of His grace become an increasing living reality as Oswald Chambers said, “We have to live in this mortal flesh as sons and daughters of God; we have to bring out to our finger tips the life that is hid with Christ in God, and we can do it because our ascended Lord has all power.” The overarching will of God, for you and I, is our sanctification; our conformity to Christ’s image. That is why we are saved, not necessarily for ourselves, but for the glory of God – to proclaim His name and magnify it through our lives.
We have lost sight of this nowadays; many of us are waiting for the big thrilling explosions of God’s will, whereas in actual fact, the will of God is now. Are we discerning it, or does our inner self whine for how it ‘appears’ so very little and insignificant, in that it holds no fascination as to what we think should take place? It is not so much our purpose but God’s purpose where His glory is concerned. Today’s standard of Christianity has the tendency to be very worldly in the sense that it is very ambitious for its own ends, no matter how many people try to gloss over it and say it’s all for God. God will allow a sense of ‘purposelessness’ in our lives, as His children, to bring us to the realisation that we are here – no matter what the circumstances – for His will. We often pray, “Your will be done” but time often tells how sincere our praying was; our reaction to circumstances reveals the true mentality of our praying.
I often wonder as to what lessons Moses learned in the desert for those long forty years. It took that length of time to strip him of any self-greatness. Our Lord spent thirty years in obscure preparation, even though He was without sin, for three years of unsurpassable world-transforming ministry; our Bible colleges churn out ministers in three years and we wonder why our pulpits lack spirit-filled men!
Our ‘wasteland’ or ‘desert’ years are the very opportunity to knowing God in greater measure. We may have lived a very active life up until now; we may have had our life’s course mapped out, so sure that God was going to bless all our endeavours. But then, unbeknownst to some of us, years prior to our current situation, life may have come to a screaming halt; not one year of silence, delays and inactivity, but five years with the days still rolling by. “Hindsight is a wonderful thing” many say and for some, if they had the chance, would turn back the clock and make a few adjustments that would present a very different and ‘prosperous’ status quo. But Oh! God knows; He knows exactly the way to perfect us and often times those circumstances of His choice would never be of our choosing were God to leave the decisions to us. We would soon cower away and select an easier road, but friends, this is not selfianity but Christianity and if we are sincere in our desire to follow Christ, then we are willing to lose our lives, not just in the physical sense but in all aspects of life. I’ve never forgotten the words from one of my former pastors stated some years ago, “It’s harder to live for Christ than to die for Him.” To live for Christ is to deny yourself daily; it is a daily dying for those who are serious in pursuing God. But here is the wonderful paradox of the Christian life: where death takes place, resurrection inevitably follows; it’s in the losing that we gain what we could never keep and it’s in the dying that we are raised to greater life.
It isn’t how well we perform according to the world’s standard of success, but how we prepare for eternity, the everlasting kingdom unseen, that counts as being worthy in God’s eyes. Leonard Ravenhill said, “We have such a short time to prepare for eternity.” Everything we engage in – career, friendships, relationships and marriage ought to be governed with eternity in view. These secondary aspects have become the Christian’s primary perspective; eternity has become an afterthought. Career has become more important than prayer and yet the greatest Christian endeavours were birthed and accomplished in and through prayer. Nations and world pivotal history have been radically altered by prayer. These were God’s people gripped with the reality of eternity. Many Christians today have become so career-minded that even our churches have become business-like; a house of merchandise instead of a house of prayer. How like the world churches have become; while denying its love for it, many live just like it! The world labours for what will soon fade away to nothing and as C.T. Studd once said, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Ravenhill countered the well-known saying, “You can be so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good” with “You can be so earthly-minded, you’re no heavenly use.” True usefulness to God comes out of our intimacy with Him; it is always to be that way around if we are to impact the lives of others with the kingdom of God. The greatest vocation every Christian should strive for is to ‘breathe’ eternity in the world they live; everything else should suspend from that; every action and decision ought to arise from that motive if we are to bear fruit for Christ that lasts.
Our ‘desert’ and ‘wasteland’ years may not always afford us the luxury of seeing what God is doing through our lives in order to enrich others; we may feel unproductive – by the world’s measures – but as we are submissive and pliable to the pressure of God’s hands, amidst the trials of our circumstances, we will turn out exactly as He intends. Our disillusionments are the stripping away of our illusions; it is the pruning knife of God that cuts us back in order to yield good fruit in abundance.
The Hebrew Christian interpreted God’s providence by looking back at life’s course as with a person who rows a boat with their back to the oncoming scenery and observes it after passing by; how clear God’s methods appear to us then; what wonder holds us in amazement as we contemplate, that indeed, He does all things well, “For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water” – Isaiah 35:6-7. It is God calling glory out of waste; calling into existence what has not been and turning the impossible into the possible.
Posted on May 14, 2013, in ♣ Devotional and tagged 1 John 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, ambition, C.T. Studd, Calling Glory Out of Waste, career, depravity, desert, disillusionments, domain of grace, eternity, faithfulness of God, foreordained, friendships, God's restraining influence, God's sovereignty, God's will, God’s grace abounds, God’s purpose, heirs of God, Hindsight, illusions, intimacy with God, Isaiah 35:6-7, John Gill, Leonard Ravenhill, lifelong repentance, Mark Anthony Williams, marriage, omniscience, Oswald Chambers, paradox of the Christian life, Philippians 1:6, prayer, proneness to sin, Providence, purposelessness, relationships, Romans 6:14, salvation, sanctification, self-greatness, Streams in the Desert, vocation, wasteland, wilderness. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.