One of my husband’s favorite genres is science fiction. Often a character enters a new universe by going through a portal. For a limited period of time, a portal opens allowing access then it closes.
I started thinking about portals as an (obviously imperfect) analogy to God’s presence and opportunities in our lives.
Saying “Yes” opens a door to a vast universe we never imagined possible. Saying “no” may keep us from marvelous plans God has for us. Waiting is dangerous. The portal could close and remain shut, and we would be blocked from entering.
We observe this in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar. As Daniel Chapter 4 begins, the king was content and prosperous, but near the end of the chapter, he was living as a beast in the field eating grass. What happened? The king was walking in pride and believed that all he had accomplished was through his own hand. After dreaming of a flourishing tree that is chopped down, Nebuchadnezzar summons the prophet Daniel. After interpreting the king’s dream, Daniel urged Nebuchadnezzar to repent, but the king did not. After 12 months, God removed his authority and he was driven away for 7 years until raised his eyes to heaven and his sanity was restored. King Nebuchadnezzar recognized that the Lord is sovereign over the world’s kingdoms and bestows power and authority as He sees fit, The king concluded, “I will praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
Now is the day of salvation. If God is drawing you to Himself, don’t delay because only He knows the number of our days. If He is calling you to act in faith, the opportunity may not last indefinitely. If it is God who has opened a door, we can enter with confidence.
When we listen and obey God, our hearts remain softened and able to receive more. When we refuse God and His ways, our hearts become hardened and calloused with the risk of eventually becoming stony. Entering the unknown may seem daunting but remember…
The Lord goes before you and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12
O Lord, our Lord How majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1
The significance of the Latin phrase- imago deo – in the image of God– is incredible! From the very creation of the first man and woman, the LORD declared that we are fashioned in the image of God. Each human bears the image of our divine Heavenly Father.
We are imprinted with this image when He forms us in the womb. For those who reject God, His image becomes obscured by sin. No matter the extent of a person’s darkened mind or physical appearance, the image is present although perhaps it is deeply hidden. May God open our eyes to see that the clerk at the grocery store, the inconsiderate driver, child with Down syndrome, the homeless veteran, the drug addict, and even a murderer or persecutor of believers (I’m thinking of Paul) are each created in His image.
For those who know God and are called according to His purpose, His image upon us is clarified and refined like a polaroid picture emerging to view.* I find it interesting that while we may not be able to recognize other believers, I think heavenly beings (angels) discern the ones sealed by God as his own.
What a privilege and responsibility we hold to re-present our LORD as image bearers. However, even more astonishing is that our Father additionally gives the gift of His Spirit to each one who confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior. As His children, He sets His seal upon us giving us His Spirit as a guarantee promising us redemption.* He puts this marvelous treasure, His very presence, in fallible and deteriorating bodies.
Some days life may seem impossibly confusing or difficult. Be fortified in these truths – You are created in the image of God, and He dwells within you as His promise of hope in His glory.*
Thanks to our new youth director, Edgar Ruiz, I have another acronym to share. This one is a simple model when praying for God’s purpose and direction.
F – Fill me with Your Spirit
E – Empower me
E – Embolden me to be your witness
D – Direct me
GO- Go before me
Jesus revealed to his disciples in John 15:5, “He who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit. Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Praying in this manner places me in a position of abiding by keeping me from organizing my days and hoping God will come alongside me as I attempt to do what I think is good. This prayer reminds me that my strength, power, and direction all proceed from abiding in Jesus. If God is not leading the way, it is far better to wait than to make my own way in my own strength.
Moses understood this as he pleaded with the Lord in Exodus 33:15-16, “If your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. …Is it not by Your going with us that we may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
Waiting is difficult. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father to send the gift He promised, the Holy Spirit. For the disciples as well as for us, waiting on the Lord may be the difference between cowering and courage, being a wanderer or being a witness. In his message, Edgar observed, “The presence of God is what sets us apart.”
Lord, please fill me, empower me, embolden me, direct me and go before me so that my life is not filled with ordinary accomplishments, but extraordinary fruit-bearing.
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me a purity of heart, so that I may honor you. Psalm 86:11
As I look over my years of reading and studying the Bible, I have found 2 methods stand out as most beneficial. The first has been studying each book of the Bible inductively using Precept upon Precept workbooks written by Kay Arthur. In the beginning, some people discouraged me from this because I had 3 little children and these studies necessitate about 5 hours of homework each week 😊 Even then I realized if I am going to invest my time into something, time in the word of God is always wisely spent.
But for those seasons when I was not prepared to commit to an in-depth study, I found SOAP, an acronym introduced to me through the Hawaiian pastor Wayne Cordiero. This technique is so simple and now provides a written journey of my time spend in the word of God.
Scripture – Under this heading, select one or more verses to write out.
Observation – What do you notice about this verse? Some questions to consider…
Who is speaking? To Whom? Do you learn something about God’s character? What does it say to do or not to do? Is there a promise? What is the historical context? If you are really curious, you can look up a word in its original language (Hebrew or Greek) to gain more insight.
Application- What does God want me to do as a result of reading this? Perhaps my response will be to worship our amazing God. Or do I need to repent? Do I need to incorporate this truth into my thinking so my worldview resembles God’s and not man’s? Is there something God is placing on my heart to do or to stop doing?
Pray – Talk to the Lord and enjoy the privilege of coming boldly to His throne of grace to find help in our time of need. (I record a 2-3 sentence summary of the prayer.)
My prayer for you is that you will delight in God’s word, His love letter to us.