Originally posted at American Revival Press
The Disciples asked Jesus how they should pray. Remember this story? Jesus answered them, "Our Father, who is in heaven... Holy is Your Name..." This passage of scripture is one of the most fundamental to coming (beyond religion) to truly walk with God. Jesus came, born like us, in this broken and detestable flesh-suit, with a corruptible and perhaps even a corrupted soul, to reveal to us Our Father, to return us to our God. Coming to religion what do we find? Perhaps we find God but unfortunately many just find the dogmatic-religious ways of men - the things that men have created which were never God-given. A friend of mine likes to say, "Religion is mans way back to God. But Jesus is God's way back to Him." There must be a distinction drawn between being merely religious or truly coming to walk with our Father, coming to know Him in intimately, the way a son knows his father...
Do we really think God wants us memorizing prayers to be recited over and again? What kind of intimacy is there in that? What if every morning your son or daughter awoke to repeat day after day, "Good Morning Father, thank you for giving me life, I hope to be a wonderful child for you today, to please you and earn your favor. Forgive me everything i did wrong yesterday. I hope I do not let you down today." And day in and day out the same morning greeting - How close do you think you would feel with your child hearing him/her recite the same thing over and over and over...?
The word of God says many times in many different ways, "God hears our hearts." Jesus says, "Man looks at the outward things but God sees the heart." Our Father, our Dad, He wants to be close to Him, He wants us to know Him, personally and intimately, the way a child comes to know their father. But who many of our fathers have let us down? betrayed us? violated our trust and worse!? Trust me when I say, we carry all of this relationship into our relationship with God. And we have to shake it off, eventually.
If our dad was overbearing, critical and cold, we come to God more skeptically often not wanting much intimacy for fear of the harsh judgments, cutting quips and cold hearted one-liners. For some of us it will take literally a miracle for our Heavenly Father to break-thru, past the pain and defenses we have built around our hearts, making sure that no one can get close enough to hurt us every again. And that is the dance many of us are performing with our Dad for years and decades to make sure we never know that pain, ever again. For many of us, the bravest thing we will ever do is to trust God, and let Him in...
I regret that I can not tell you that once you find God everything in life will suddenly be easy and without any heartbreak. In some ways allowing God into your life will actually be harder and more painful, maybe not at first, but as you grow in His love. At first, God opens our eyes and we see, as if for the first time ever! Our Father loves us and has everything under control, there is nothing to fear and for the first time ever, we are free! But as the years pass, something starts to pull on us, that first love fire we have starts to diminish, that feeling of invincibility and soaring above the storms seems to wear off and somehow we return to the reality of this broken world and all the broken lives around us.
The whole of the scripture can be summarized, "How to walk with God and remain living in His Spirit regardless of what the world throws at you..." Everything Jesus did and gave us was so that we might be made into Overcomers! into the very Children of the Living God, on earth. But our flesh is weak. Jesus said it very clearly, "The Spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak." God gaves us an entire history of stories of men and women who overcame, who against all odds rose above their circumstances and came to truly "Walk with God". But it costs a lot, it costs us just about everything. And few are willing to pay that price.
Remember the parables? The parable of the pearl of great price!? The man learned of the pearl hidden in a field and he took all he had and he bought that field insomuch that he might gain the pearl... This is the kingdom of God. It literally costs us everything. But in the end we inherit eternity and so much more! We inherit life with our Father, intimacy with Dad. We get to know Him! Forever.
That's what the disciples got. Have you ever considered it? What they left, how crazy they must have looked to abandon their lives, their jobs, their families to go and follow Jesus around for some three years...? But they got three whole years with The Son of the Most High God who came and lived among men! How many of us would see Him if He came us with such an offer? How many of us would trade away this meaningless life, rising above our fears and doubts and leave it all behind to go and follow The Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh among men!? I like to think I would. But think of what it would cost!?
It must break God's heart how few of us actually want Him. I mean we all run to Him when times are tough, for the saving of our nation, or our family, when we get sick or need money... we all run to Him. But then what? How many of us actually just want to know Him and be close with Him because we love Him!? I think the essence of real and lasting revival is hidden in the trueness of our relationship with God. If we actually want to know Him, to include Him in our lives not because we have to, or because religion tells us this is how we will get to heaven but because we genuinely love Him and appreciate Him for WHO HE TRULY IS! God is love. Why wouldn't we want to know Perfect love? It's a difficult thing to consider.
What if religion has really done us all a great disservice in making us to believe God wants something from us? I mean, God clearly wants something from us but it isn't some service or duty that we can perform for Him. What does the All Mighty, All Powerful God need from us? One thing. He wants our hearts. The same way every father wants to be close to his children, God wants to be close with us. Truly that is all He asks for. Wasn't that the only thing Jesus asked of His Disciples? "Come. And Follow me." In essence He was saying, "Come on you guys, Live with me, eat with me, watch what I do. Get to know me and let me get to know you. Lets be friends..." Remember He even said that! "I no longer call you servants for a servant doesn't know what his master does but now I call you friends for all things I have made known to you."
Isn't that what good friends do for each other? Share intimate things, share deep and hidden things of the heart, things that perhaps no one else on earth knows about!? That's what God wants the share with us.... His heart. He wants to show us the beauty and majesty that is truly within Him, the glory that He is hoping and working to reveal. But who wants Him? Who really wants to know their God and come to know so personally and intimately?
The truth is it's effortless to shine for the kingdom of God when we walk with The Father of all Creation all day, every day. It requires almost nothing of us to be God's own ambassadors in the earth when we never leave Him, regardless of the circumstances. But the flesh will get in the way. This broken body, this carnal flesh and wayward soul will cause us all kinds of troubles as we are learning to be with our God, but He will teach us. He will teach us to Overcome, to overcome the flesh, to overcome our fears, to rise above our doubts and the literal haters around us. And in time this world will have nothing left in us... We will be made free, forever!
The greatest of things in creation all start small: a seed, a whisper, a glimmer of light beneath the earth, a spark among some dried grass. Do not despise the day of humble beginnings, it has been written. It will take time to learn to quiet the soul, to believe even when there is doubt, to trample upon our fears and leave our darkest fears behind. But God will lead us thru. Thru the valley of the shadow of death, and yet we will fear no evil. But few will come. And even fewer will continue with Him, even thru the midst of the storm and the great tempest. But some will love Him more than the fear. Some the power of their love for Him will be greater than the darkness lurking throughout their fears.
It's a journey with God. Some will start the journey at 60 and 70, some will begin the journey at 6 or 7, but we will all celebrate the victory for the whole of eternity! Some of the best stories are yet to be written in heaven. Did you know He keeps record of all the great works we accomplish thru Him!? Some of the greatest stories are yet to told!? And perhaps those are your stories with God!? It starts today, hidden in the mystery, walking with your God, and Father, Dad. Come to Him.
As I conclude, I want to remind you that what you are trading away is broken, and temporal and practically worthless. You are trading away something with very little to be admired, something without much glory or honor within it and for trading away this insignificance and brokenness, God is giving you back His own glory, His riches and wonder! But laying it down at the alter feels like a lot, because it's everything we have... but only at first. Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and that you might live it more abundantly!" We have to abandon first everything we believe to be so precious first - and then He leads us there, into the Promised Land! And we will see, even as if for the first time ever, we will see!
Certainly this revival begins in us first, as we finally surrender this broken mess to God and receive back from Him, "Life" and "Life more abundantly". But it's our choice. I pray that we would all choose wisely. Take Courage! God is not playing some terrible game with us. He never lies, if He promises to us life everlasting and a new home... The promise will be ours! If we persevere, day after day, waiting and holding to the promise - we will not fail to receive the fullest reward! God wants to bless us! Remember that. What good Father doesn't desire to lavish their children with the best of gifts!? Our Father loves us. This is the beginnings of Revival
It's the love of God.
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