The Fullness!

…I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.   And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints to grasp  how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV

The fullness of God!  The fullness of God?  We are praying that we be filled with the fullness of God.  How is that even possible?  What in the world is that phrase talking about?  Are these words just some sort of Christianeze?  …a phrase that we throw around because it sounds REALLY impressive?

Of course, we know that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscience (has infinite knowledge) and is omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time).   So how can we even hope to contain Him?

I raise these questions because I do not have the answers.  I am a visual person, so rather than try to answer these questions, I decided to try to visualize the fullness of God.

  • I can picture a field of red and yellow tulips stretching as far as the eye can see.  God’s beauty exceeds that picture.
  • I can imagine a rugged mountain peak piercing the clouds!  God’s majesty exceeds that of the mountain.
  • I can imagine thousands of school children gathered in a football stadium and holding up their red heart valentines.  God’s love is so much bigger and more tangible than that!
  • I can see in my  mind a mile-wide river meandering slowly over a nearly-flat river bed.  But this doesn’t even begin to describe God’s peace!
  • And I can visualize a star-filled sky on a crisp October night.  The Creator of those stars is far more immense than His creation.

So how can we describe Him?   I can’t– not with the limited resources of  my mind.  But my spirit knows that I need His fullness.  This I do know:  When I am filled with His fullness, there is room for nothing else!!

**********************

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  John 1:16 NIV

 

Advertisements

Job’s Challenge

The Lord God and the Devil were discussing various servants of the Lord from their vantage point in the lowest heaven.  “Look at that one, named Job,” exclaimed the Lord.  “He is such a righteous man.  He serves me with all his heart!” (Job 1:7,8)*

As they watched, Job brought yet another sacrifice to the altar.  When the priest questioned him, Job replied, “This is for those kids of mine–a wild bunch!  They like to party!  I never know when one of them might have committed a sin and will have to suffer the consequences.  I am so afraid for them!”  (Job 1:4,5)

The Devil turned to the Lord God with just a touch of a smirk on his face.  “Ha!  Look at that!  He is trying to secure his children’s safety by the number of his sacrifices.  He is operating out of fear rather than out of faith!  I think that Job serves you only for what you give to him.  I bet if I, Satan, attack his children, he will curse You to Your face! (Job 1:9-11)

The Lord God was confident of his servant’s commitment and faithfulness.  “Look,” the Lord exclaimed again.  “His fear has lowered My Hedge of Protection around him.  He is in your hands.  Do whatever you want with him!”  (Job 1:12)

The devil was quick to initiate his attack on Job, beginning with his flocks and herds, continuing with the deaths of his children, and finally attacking Job’s own health.

A few days later Job lay in his bed, nursing his many sores.  Reflecting on his tragedies, he moaned, “All those things that I feared have happened to me. I was afraid that my flocks would suffer damage, that my children would sin, and that I would lose my health.  And it has all happened!”  (Job 3:25)

His wife came in, and, with her nagging, unsympathetic voice, said, “What a mess you are!  Why don’t you just curse God and die!”  (Job 2:9,10)  [It is interesting to note that the only thing that Job did NOT lose in his trial was his unsupportive wife!].

At that suggestion, an indignant Job rose up on his elbows in the bed and strongly asserted, “Shall we accept only good from the hand of God.”

God grinned at Satan.  “See, what did I tell you!  He doesn’t serve me for what I can give him.  He serves because he loves me!”

Job’s test was not over.  He still had to endure the criticism and condemnation of his well-meaning “friends.”  At one point in the lengthy discourse with his friends he strongly vowed, “Even though the Lord kill me, I will not stop serving him.”  He showed by this statement that his relationship with his Lord was more important to him than life itself.  (Job 13:15)

However, the Lord had not forgotten his servant.  During his trial, Job learned to place all his confidence in his Lord rather than in friends, family or in his own righteous deeds thereby losing his fear.  When Job obeyed the Lord, and prayed for his “friends,” he did so humbly and without spite.  Job realized that the Lord had used them in his life.

Then Lord God restored the fortunes of a confident, faith-filled Job blessing him with possessions twice as large as before and restoring his family–giving him new sons and beautiful daughters. (Job 42:10)

The next time Satan came by, the Lord God asked, “Say, what do you think of my servant, Job, now?”  [God knew from the beginning that Job would successfully meet his challenge, because the Lord knows all.]

This time Satan was speechless!

*********

*The dialogue used in this story includes paraphrases of the scriptures.  The reader is encouraged to check the actual scriptures.  The following scriptures also shed light on the story above..
For God has not given us a spirit of [fear] but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7  NIV

We also rejoice in sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us.  Romans 5:3-5  NIV

For it  is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.  Philippians 2:13  NIV

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.  Philippians 1:6  NIV

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.  Psalm 138:8  NIV

Not by Might, nor by Power…!

Free Bible illustrations at Free Bible images of the Prophet Samuel anointing Jesse's youngest son, David, as the next King of Israel. (1 Samuel 16:1-23)Goliath was dead, and David’s oldest brother, Eliab, and Jesse, their father, were discussing the whole affair:

Eliab began the discussion:  “All right, I admit that what we saw this afternoon was pretty spectacular — David killing that giant who, by his enormous size and strength, had put fear into the heart of every seasoned soldier in the king’s army.  First, Samuel selects David, a red-faced kid, to be king passing over the rest of us, his older, smarter, stronger, and more experienced brothers, then David has this astonishing victory over the giant, Goliath!”

Eliab continued, “David goes out to face the giant without any armor and only the crudest of weapons:  a few stones.  Then he cuts down the giant with a single stone and makes it look like child’s play.  What I want to know is how does David do it?  Is the kid just plain lucky, or this something more than luck?”

Jesse, not wanting to show favoritism among his sons, stroked his beard thoughtfully.  “Hmmm!”  He didn’t want to offend Eliab who had worked long and hard at his military career, but he must speak the truth.

“Could it be that David knows and trusts God while you, on the other hand, trust only in your own appearance, strength, experience and intelligence?  There is still time to change, you know!”  Jesse had just verbalized the crux of the matter.  Would Eliab respond?

******

Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty.  Zechariah 4:6 NIV

They who know their God shall be strong and do exploits.   Daniel 11:32 NIV

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted!  Matthew 23:12 NIV

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  James 4:6 NIV

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the Name of the Lord our God!   Psalm 20:7 NIV

But Grandpa Noah…

IMG_0654

“But Grandpa!   I know you know how to build, and everyone in our village says you are doing a good job.  This structure is sturdy, and all the levels seem to be well planned with the largest pens in the bottom of the structure, and dozens upon dozens of little pens on the top floor.  But what goes in those pens?”

Noah responded wearily, “I have told you so many times:  animals, thousands of land animals and birds, two of each.  This boat, this structure, is going to protect them from a huge deluge, a huge flood that is going to wash away everything that is now living on this earth.”

“But, grandpa!  There are so many questions!   Where will you get the animals?  You are a good carpenter, but definitely not an expert in animal science.  How will you trap the animals?  How will you bring them here to this…this “boat”?  I heard there are more animals in Africa.  Why not build this boat there?”

“And the people in the village are laughing.  Even my best friends are making fun of me.  They say that if this really is supposed to be a boat where is all the water to make it float?  So I am asking you where will all the water come from?  Right now a mist comes every day to water our plants.  That also gives us enough to drink, but it is not nearly enough water to float this boat!!  And even if the boat does float, how will you make it go?   How will you steer it?”

Noah stopped forcing the peg into the board he had just cut.  He motioned for his grandson to come and sit with him on a nearby rock.  He gently laid his gnarled hand on his small shoulder.  “I built this boat here near this mountain, Mt Ararat, because that is what God told me to do.  I don’t know where the animals will come from, but we are not ready for them yet.  I believe that this boat will float because God knows how to build a boat, and I have followed his instructions.  I don’t know where the water will come from either, but in my dream I saw sheets of water falling out of the sky and fountains of water coming up out of the earth.  It was terrifying!”

Noah continued.  “There is something else that worries me more:  the people of the village!  I have tried to warn them.  They are lying, cheating, hurting, and even killing one another.  They know that what they are doing is wrong, but they continue in their sinful ways.  I have told them over and over that God cannot tolerate sin.  I think that this boat reminds them of God’s promise to destroy life on the earth if they do not repent.”

Suddenly there was a thud!   A rock had struck the boat leaving a large hole in the side of the structure.  A crowd had gathered, and their hands were full of rocks.  Noah fell to his knees and prayed diligently that God would protect his boat.  As Noah prayed, a dark cloud began to form at the summit of Mt. Ararat.  As it grew rapidly in size, the astonished crowd gasped.  Within a few minutes it had darkened the entire area, and water began to fall from it.  One woman screamed, dropped her rock and began to run toward her home.  Immediately the crowd dissipated.  When the last villager had dropped his rock and fled the scene, the rain stopped just as quickly as it had started.

Noah’s grandson emerged from the bottom deck where he had sought shelter from the pelting rain.  “Wow, Grandpa!  Did you see that?  Water came from the sky!  It started with a cloud on top of the mountain, but look!  There are no clouds in the sky now!  It is all blue again!,  And where is the hole that the rock made in the boat?  It is gone too!”

“I was beginning to think that you were crazy, Grandpa, but after today, I believe that the villagers are crazy if they don’t believe you!”

Noah smiled!  “Let’s pray that they will repent and believe so that God doesn’t have to send a really big rainstorm!”

“But Grandpa Noah, should we pray for them when we know that they deserve punishment?”

“Good question,” replied Noah.  “We need the answer!  Let’s pray!”

***

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.  Psalm 1:6

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  II Peter 3:9