The Secret Life of the BelieverMay 12, 2008
Galatians 1:15-18 “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jersalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”
The conversion of Paul was so incredible that even in todays secular culture, reference is sometimes made to it. A person who suddenly alters their course is said to have had a “road to Damascus” experience as, without warning, they seem to have embarked on a path which stands in contrast to their “about” page. Yet as fascinating as Pauls conversion is, the time following his conversion is equally fascinating. He didn’t sit through filtered theological instruction from the teachers of the day, but received the gospel by direct revelation from God. I’m trying to imagine three years of abiding with the Lord in the deserts of Arabia as the Holy Spirit revealed great and mighty things which I knew not. (WOW!) Paul was already more familiar with scripture than most of his contemporaries and this had to be an awesome time to put it mildly. To spend three years of hearing from God with relatively little interferance from the ambience is something that very few of us can relate to. (Luke 24:15-27 came to mind as I was typing this out.)
We live in an age like none other with dangers at every turn. One such danger is the hecticity of daily life which makes it challenging to set aside quality time with the Lord Jesus. Many today allow the cares of this life to prevent them from pursuing an intimate relationship with him. For those who are watching in these final moments of the age, a variation of this comes into play. The urgency of the hour is so great that there’s a tendancy to “trim away” at time with the Lord as to be about the furtherance of the gospel. Even though the word of God will never return void, the lack of time spent with the Lord can leave us woefully unprepared for the battles that lie ahead. The apostle Paul was chosen of God for a very unique ministry; that of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ far hence into the gentile nations. Nations which had more gods and philosophies of men than one could number, but had virtually no understanding of the God who created all that is. The Lord prepared Paul precisely for this mission; opening to him the scriptures which he had studied from his youth and bringing him into a level of intimacy that would be critical to endure the upcomming trials.
Matthew 17:21 “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
In this short verse, Jesus explains the importance of how we spend our “in between” time. For many of us, schedules are so packed full that our time between events may be nothing more than a few minutes here and there. (This coming Saturday, I have to be in three places at the same time. It should be interesting.) Yet we need to maximize such moments; even when they’re nothing more than a few minutes in the shower, standing in line at Wal-Mart, or the drive from work to home. When driving, I rarely have a radio on as it’s a perfect time to be with the Lord Jesus, to lift up those who are outside the ark of safety and pray fervently for those who face circumstances which appear overwhelming. Time with the Lord is more important than air, and if we truly love him, we’ll actively seek out precious moments in his presence; even to the point of rearranging our schedule . Our secret life with the Lord Jesus is much more telling of where we are spiritually than how involved we are with the church or how many bumper stickers decorate our vehicle. Peter Wittman once explained it like this: “Each of us are, at this present time, as close to the Lord as we have chosen to be.”
I Kings 17:1 “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these three years, but according to my word.”
The ministry of Elijah is, to put it mildly, fascinating; beginning with the way that he simply “appears” in scripture. Anyone who has read of this prophet will be aware of how the Lord shut up heaven for three years, how the Lord consumed the sacrifice in front of 450 prophets of Bael along with 400 prophets of the groves, and how he was taken away in a chariot; thereby becoming only the second person to not see death. Yet these events are few and far between when compared to the time that Elijah was with the Lord; fellowshipping and hearing the still small voice. Because of his closeness to the Lord, he was always at the right place at the right time and had the right words for the right people. When we try to go it alone or rely on mechanics, it’s more “hit and miss” but when we spend time with the Lord (This need cannot be emphasized enough) we’ll know his will and those around us will take knowledge of us, that we have been with Jesus. This next passage concerns the moment when Elijah meets Obadiah, the governor of Ahabs house and tells him to announce his arrival.
I Kings 18:10-12 “As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I am come to tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee,he shall slay me: but I fear the LORD from my youth.”
One gets the impression that encounters with Elijah were rare. It must have been frustrating for Ahab to be unable to find the man whom he blamed for the drought. I can imagine Ahab saying to himself “Hmm…If I were a prophet, where would I hide?” He used the concepts of logic (relentless searching) in trying to find a man who moved in the spiritual realm. Obadiahs concern was understandable. (I wonder if this would explain why the men fell backwards when Jesus said “I am he.” They had sought so many opportunities to take him that when they found him and he simply said “I am he” it totally bewildered them.) The words of Obadiah reveal that Elijah was only located when the Lord permitted it. We should also remember this when the end time senario progresses to the point where a mark will be required to participate in the worlds economy. Just as God sustained Elijah in the midst of the turmoil of his day, he can sustain us in the midst of unimaginable tribulation such as the world has never seen. He alone determines when our time here is complete.
Well, this post has a few items missing, but it’s already too long, and I have to attend to some other matters. With events in the world going as they are, we cannot allow ourselves to be carnally minded. If we are in Christ, wherever we are, he is with us there also and we need to maintain a continual relationship with him. If I’m walking down the road with my best friend, we’re probably going to talk about an array of things. To walk down the road but not communicate would call into question the validity of the friendship. Jesus is with us 24/7 and we should strive to be in continuous fellowship with him; not just a certain times or under certain conditions. I’m writing this to myself as I face as many distractions as most others face. Well, I’ll be going now. I wish to every saint, a blessed day in Jesus.