Scripture Reference: Genesis 15:12 KJV
And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
Good evening. We’re getting earlier with these posts yet. I have gotten behind a bit on the Jesus Calling devotional posts, but I feel like this one is more of importance to us. This is the one that there’s opposition from the devil on…and that tells me this series is the one we need to really focus on.
So, with that said…let’s get into this message…and see what God and Oswald Chambers are going to teach us today.
Today’s Message: “Vision and Darkness”
Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen.
Be still and know that He is God is one of my all time favorite songs by Steven Curtis Chapman. Another talented musician friend of mine has a song “Be Still” as well. The point of both of those songs is the same point that’s being made here by Mr. Chambers. The point of being still kind of goes along with what God’s been trying to establish with the Jesus Calling series. The first few devotionals I’ve written Jesus is dealing with us on trusting in Him…and part of that is being still and knowing that when He gives you a vision that He’s not just going to give it to you, and be like; “Good luck, son (or daughter), I’ll see ya on the other side of your journey.” He walks the journey with us, and part of that being still is acknowledging that we trust Him to be God.
I told you that when I stopped trusting my efforts to draw people to this ministry, and I just started writing and trusting God with the rest…He started drawing people. I didn’t have to ask people to follow me…He lead them to me…and they chose to follow. I have a slight understanding now of how God feels whenever someone chooses to call Him Lord. I know there’s plenty of other Christian blogs that are better written, more powerful, and just plain better than mine…so every time someone subscribes or likes my Facebook page or a post or anything like that it means something to me because they chose me…and when we choose God it means more to Him than it would if He was to just make us all robots.
Anyways, I would just like to say that if we’re in the shadow of His hand then that’s the absolute safest place to be. I actually have written this before, but I think someone needs it so I’m going to write it again.
My picture of God’s hand and us is totally different. I was lucky enough to have an uncle Sliver growing up. Obviously, Sliver is a nickname because as a child all I remember was that he was a giant man. I also remember that he’d play games with us kids. He’d hide a piece of candy in his hand, and we would do everything we could to pull and pry to get that piece of candy out of his hand. The only time we were finally able to get it…is when he would allow us to get the candy. Other wise, it was safely tucked inside of his fist.
This is the part that I feel is needed. You are the piece of candy inside of God’s hand. Just like my uncle Sliver…the enemy is always going to do everything he can to pry open the hand of God to get to you, but the only time the enemy is allowed to touch you is when God opens His hand.
Remember Satan had to get God’s permission to test Job? God gave him permission, but there were conditions. Those same conditions apply to us.
We are all safe in the palm of God’s hand…and when He has to…just like that piece of candy was safe in the clenched hand of my uncle…so too are we when we need God to protect us.
There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light—that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10–11).
It’s funny to me how when God speaks something to us we need to ask four of our closest friends, our pastor, maybe our home group leaders, and even some of our unsaved co-workers about it. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if Noah would’ve sought the “advice” of those around him…instead of obediently building the Ark like God told him to? In short…none of us would be here.
I talk a lot about the eleven years between the call and the embracing of the call into ministry. There were many times during those eleven years that God was…well…silent. I thought that God’s silence meant that God was disappointed in me too…until I finally understood that God knows my life from start to finish and all points in between…so nothing I do catches Him by surprise…and all that time I thought He was disappointed in me…it was my own thoughts that were keeping me in that silent darkness by thinking God was somehow mad at me.
Can I tell you something? God is not mad at you. God isn’t disappointed in you. God isn’t going to one day throw His hands up in the air in disgust, roll His eyes, and be like: “That’s it. I am done with that guy.”
God loves you…and as long as you draw breath…that means He isn’t finished with you. So…just know that God loves you, and He’s not mad at you.
Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God . . .” —El-Shaddai, the All-powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.
Boy, there’s some great questions in here. If you know God has spoken to your heart about serving Him. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself.
Do I trust at all in the flesh or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God?
I was about to get to this point, and then I got side tracked. If you know God has spoken to your heart…that’s not the time to consult people…it’s time to just say like Isaiah: “Here am I, Lord. Send me.” I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d have come to my senses sooner than 2012, but I didn’t. I understand that during those eleven years God was developing me into the person I am today, but I knew God was calling me…and then I consulted people of God and reasoned within myself (as I mentioned in other messages) why God was wrong to pick me and how unqualified I was to serve Him.
I have finally gone beyond all confidence in myself and others, and just began to do what God was calling me to do. Being obedient to God is my part…the rest of it is all up to Him.
Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings?
I can answer this question by saying that I definitely place my confidence in God, and not whether or not God blesses me. I think everyone here knows how I feel about Christian books. They’re great for your personal life, and I’m sure there’s lots of great teaching in them…and I’m sure they have good points to be used to help illustrate a sermon…but they don’t have any use in being THE sermon. I suppose I could read a bunch of books on how to be a successful blogger…but I chose to ask God to develop me as a writer instead.
I prayed about it, and left it in God’s hands. See, here’s the thing. I understood that if this blogging thing wasn’t of God that after a while it would fade away, and I wouldn’t want to do it anymore. I’ve had a lot of things happen like that. What I did was basically entrust the Lord that if this was really His call for me that He would help me to develop as a writer, that He would draw the people He wanted to be affected by my ministry, and that I would trust Him with the results.
So far, I think that’s worked out pretty good. Don’t you?
As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.
The more I do this the more real God becomes. The more I do this the more I learn about God, about my place in God’s kingdom, and about myself. The more I do this the more have come to understand the heart of God, and what’s really near and dear to His heart. God’s heart and desire is to see people saved. Beyond that, His next desire is to have the kind of relationship with each and every one of us who call Him Lord that He had with Adam in the Garden.
Let that sink in for a moment. God wants to have the kind of relationship that Adam and Enoch enjoyed. I want to have that kind of relationship also. I don’t want to just know of God…I want to KNOW God…and the more I do this the more I get to know Him.
My foundation is firmly built upon my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and Mr. Chambers is right. While there are things that may upset me or knock me off kilter for a while…there isn’t anything that can take my foundation away from me. There’s nothing that can take Christ away from being your foundation either.
I think the best way to close out this message is to allow Mr. Chambers to have the last words:
Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.
O Lord, with much dimness I draw nigh to You. Clear the dimness away from me and flood me with the light of Your countenance.
I guess I really don’t have much to add when it comes to closing this message. This has been a pretty good series so far, and as always…I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s message.
God bless you and thank you for being a part of the Christlike Ministries NWA family. I truly love and am thankful for all of you.
Bryan J. Kizer
Pastor/Founder Christlike Ministries NWA