Revere God's Word
I am here to tell you that one of the biggest tools in my life over the years has been understanding something that Paul said to the Thessalonians. He said, “The reason why God has worked in you so miraculously is because you took these things not to be simply my words, but to be the very words of God as they actually are.” Now, He wasn’t talking about scripture. There was no scripture except for the Old Testament. He was saying, “I am the servant of God. I’m not trying to be boastful about it, but I am a servant of God. You ought to listen to these things because God isn’t going to echo from the heavens all that often, but He is going to speak through His servants and His vessels in a way that ought to be received with the same reverence as if God Himself were speaking.”
Because I know that’s true, I have chosen to cherish the things that He puts in front of me through His servants, through so-called coincidences and through signs of various types. I choose to cherish and revere those things because He has only visited me in physical, audible ways outside of the realm of mankind a very few number of times in a decade and a half. It just hasn’t happened all that often. And yet there have been 10,000 things He has wanted to teach me. I have to revere the relationships that I have and the situations that come along. I have to do everything I can to extract the things that are clearly God’s voice and give my heart over to it as if I’d had a physical appearance. I have to have a mindset that honors and cherishes God speaking through people as vessels.
The lack of that kind of reverence is what disturbed me so deeply once when I was in Dallas. People were wandering back and forth, here and there, getting up, whispering to a child, getting a Coke, then sitting down, fidgeting and flipping through papers and all that stuff. At any one given time, only half the people in the room were paying attention. I think that if Jesus had physically been there, He would have gotten up and walked out, driven away and never come back. I don’t think He would have tried to wrestle through only half of the people listening at any given point in time. Nor would He give evidence of Himself. One thing that infuriated Him was when He did signs and wonders and reached out and did something that couldn’t be explained in human terms, and they ignored it. He said, “It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you, because I did things for you. I brought My Word, and I confirmed My Word, and you still wouldn’t listen. And Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t have that opportunity.”
It’s extremely important that we have a high regard, reverence and awe for somehow trying to extract God’s will from things other than a visitation. As Jesus said, “If they won’t hear Moses and the prophets (meaning written things or the prophetic things from humans), then a man raised from the dead won’t help them a bit, because they won’t believe that either.” They’ll find some way to excuse it.
The point is, if we don’t cherish and have reverence, then we’re not going to focus, are we? What if Jesus of Nazareth walked through that wall over there or came through a locked door and extended His hands and His feet and showed you His wound marks and said, “I would like to have a few words with you. Sit down, pick up a pencil and paper and take notes. I want you to remember what I’m going to say, and I want you to do it.” How many of you would wander off in your thoughts halfway through it?
If you wouldn’t be sloppy with that, then I challenge you to not be sloppy with anything like that in God’s mind. Because anything from Him in whatever form, is just as real as it would be if He walked through that door and exposed His hand and foot wounds to us. Paul said it himself. He said, “You guys experience God because you receive these things not as the words of men, but as the words of God, which they actually are.” He wasn’t talking about reading to them from a book. He was talking to them about his being a vessel and relating to them God’s will. And he was relating the call and need and demand on God’s part to them, to respond to that.
The Gospel of John says that because the Pharisees would not respond to John’s baptism, they missed God’s purpose for their life. There is no scripture anywhere on planet earth to defend John’s right to baptize people. Find it for me. It’s not there! There is no scripture about some guy coming and baptizing people in the Jordan River. It isn’t there. “Who is this guy? Where did he come from? Big deal!” And yet if they refused to hear God’s Word through this ugly vessel with no credentials and no education, then they missed God’s purpose for their life.
So, there’s a key to not being distracted. Amongst other things, it is having a deep reverence for the Word of God in the form that God chooses to bring it. And it’s having the response—“All hail the power of Jesus’ Name”—to anything that God has said to us about His will for our lives. Whether it is something to stop doing, or something to do, or an attitude or a perspective or whatever it may happen to be—if we won’t hear God, we have cut ourselves off from God’s purpose for our life. We might wind up being saved as one through the flames, if we honestly, truly believe Jesus is the Son of God. But all the glorious things God wanted to do in us and through us will be left along the wayside just as it has been for 99.9% of everyone who has called themselves a Christian throughout all of the history of mankind.
Most have taken their bowl of porridge and run with it. They never amount to anything because they won’t hear God and respond to Him in a wild-eyed abandonment that says, “Dunk me, John, dunk me! Excuse me, excuse me! If you guys are just going to ponder what he is saying, then get out of my way. Dunk me, John. If you’re just going to analyze what he is saying and try to find a proof-text for it, get out of my way, because I hear God! I want dunked! John?” That’s got to be our heart and our attitude if we want to see the power of God rest on our lives.
There has to be a focus and abandonment into His current word without considering the consequences. Some, for fear of the Jews, left Jesus. That was a really bad decision. They were afraid about what the Jews thought, so they left Jesus. Dumb. Very dumb. That had long term consequences. Who cares what the Jews think! Who cares? What difference does it make? Let’s just be satisfied with pleasing God. Fear not him who can merely throw the body into the flames. Fear Him who can kill the body and the spirit.
Paul said in Galatians 1, “If I desire to win the approval of men I cease to be a servant of God.” You can’t have both things. You have to abandon yourself into God’s will regardless of consequences. If your status quo and reputation and self-preservation mechanisms and lustful desires and wild dreams—if all that stuff is going to control you, you can be saved, but you’ll never be anything for God. You can’t be. God only uses vessels that have abandoned, that have been crucified with Christ and the Anointed One lives in them. They’ve been crucified in weakness, and abandoned into His glory and power. They have no fear of consequences and no desire to prove anything or find approval of men. They just want to do God’s will. They just want to hear His voice and don’t have to scrutinize it for 14 hours and use proof-texts and logic. They just try to hear God’s voice and respond to it. There have been a few people like that in history but not very many.
You and I are invited into that small company of people that eat from the tree of Life and experience the power that comes from that, rather than eat from the tree of knowledge. The day you eat from that tree, what happens? You die! You die inside. There’s nothing but misery. You cannot find the life that wins if you’re so determined to have everything figured out and in a nice little cubby hole. You’re protected from all the consequences and everything is neat and tidy and in order.
Abraham could have said, “What do you promise me, God, if I leave my country? Where are we going? If I kill Isaac, what will I get out of it?” He could have analyzed everything to the “nth” degree. “What will Sarah think? As long as Sarah thinks it’s okay, then I’ll do it.” That isn’t the way it works. It’s abandonment, or it’s wood, hay and stubble.
You can join the massive, massive, massive crowd that eats from the tree of knowledge and dies in misery and worldliness and laziness and lack of fruitfulness. Or you can live a supernatural life—a life that is beyond the natural, beyond your skill, beyond your intellect, your personality, your experience, your knowledge—beyond anything. It has come from heaven and it resides in you, in your mortal body. Now you are able to do more than anyone could ask or imagine, through the power of Christ that resides in you, because you made room for Him and got yourself out of the way. You got all your thoughts, all your attitudes, all your personality, all your fears, all your old carnal hopes and dreams and all your preferences out of the way. You need to get it all out of there. If you won’t, then you’re going to die a natural man or woman. And that would be a shame, because God wants more than that for you. You were born for more than that. It’s your choice. You can blame somebody else if you want to, but there isn’t any use in doing that because it won’t get you anything. It’s your choice to abandon yourself and listen to the voice of God or to do it your own way—some shallow, superficial, selfish way, which, frankly, is what most people have chosen to do. Join the crowd if you want, but I would sure beg you not to. I sure hope you see me doing it differently—abandoning myself regardless of the consequences.