Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:29

 

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

2 Chronicles 20:12

 

“Before the coming of this faith we were held in custody; locked and shut up, held captive under the law, until the faith that was to come would be revealed.”

Galatians 3:23

 

At times it is difficult to comprehend that the men and women we read about in the Word of God were no different than you and I. They are all our distant ancestors and lived with many of the same joys and troubles we experience this very day.

There is one thing I believe we can know is true. All of us want to please God, and all want our lives to make a difference, to count.

I was discussing this with someone yesterday. She made a comment that has stayed with me since. It is a well-known verse, “Faith without works is dead.” I’ve been ruminating on it ever since.

There is a cry in every believer to be fruitful. It is rooted deep within our souls. We want our lives to matter and to count. We want to know that what we do each day is worthwhile and is making a difference, that we are fulfilling our God-ordained reason for being alive.

Paul spoke of this in the Book of Philippians when he said, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended for in Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:10-14.

A person would have to be blind literally, emotionally, and figuratively not to see how much our country and its citizens are suffering from identity crisis at this time. Our culture has been arrested by a manic form of self and blind confusion rather than being made in the image of and serving the Lord God Almighty.

Generation against generation, race against race. Even families warring within and without. I may only be in my 60’s but I have watched the subtle changes from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and so on up to the present, 2022. The changes are no longer merely subtle, they are accelerated and unchallenged by mainstream society. And when that happens people call good evil and evil good and define themselves separate from the Creator, thus denying themselves the grace of knowing who they truly were created to be.

We were created for good works. Therefore, each of us craves being effective in whatever we are tasked with doing. It is built into us. Even people who have no belief in Jesus crave purpose. For Believers, good works are about fulfilling those things that God “prepared beforehand, which we are to walk in.”

I have never forgotten the original definition of this truth. All of it flows from our being His workmanship, which is the Greek word “poiema,” meaning “a product; a thing created; created for a purpose.”

It is where we get our word “poem.”

We are a lifelong creative work, and it is also our calling to pass it on. A poem usually reveals the nature of the writer, the artist. I think it is interesting that this verse from Ephesians speaks of us having “been” created in Christ Jesus for these good works. Created is in the past tense. Each of us as Christians are here to accomplish what has already been preordained for us.

No Christian entered life on earth without reason or purpose. Who God foreknew; He also did predestinate. He knew you would love and follow Jesus Christ. You entered the earth with a divine purpose and heavenly schedule and purpose. This requires faith and trust. And it is not always accepted with open arms from those around you.

First Samuel 17:26-29 tells us the story of David, along with what he suffered while wanting to obey that creative poem and purpose instilled in him before birth.

“Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.” Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, his own brother, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”

I want you to read these verses again, slowly. God had placed a purpose, a calling, a poem deep within David’s heart and soul, just as He has in yours. And the battle started long before he looked face to face at Goliath.

His oldest brother was so angry he began to spew hateful words at David. He ridiculed David. He humiliated him right in front of his brothers, the troops, and the king himself.

He basically tried to embarrass him by saying, “All you had to do was take care of a few measly sheep and you left your post. We can’t even rely on you for that! Who do you think you are? All you want is a front seat to the battle. Get back home where father wants you. We don’t have time to give your pride an audience.”

In a modern-day scenario, most people would cease and desist right there. Today’s “me” culture will scream and shout while avoiding personal pain at all costs. Unlike David, they might think, “Did I just make a big mistake? Should I just leave this to everyone else? Maybe I should have just stayed where I was, doing what I was supposed to be doing. I’m probably not the right person. Why doesn’t anyone else see I am supposed to be here? Maybe God has everything the way He wants it. People will always speak evil of Jesus. Maybe my oldest brother was probably right. There are some things that are just too big to challenge.

But one phrase sticks out above the others. David cries, “Is there not a cause?”

This word “cause” is the Hebrew word “dabar.” One of its definitions is translated, “Is there not a word? Don’t we have a word from God on this matter? Why are you just standing there afraid, doing nothing? Let’s arise and move at God’s Word!” Goliath was challenging God’s Word.

The following verses state Goliath was defying the armies of Israel. This word “defying” is a Hebrew word which translates “to pull off by stripping.” Goliath was trying to strip Israel of their faith and identity one word or offense at a time, so they would develop their own identity crisis. David’s call and purpose was to stand up, resist the enemy, and face the giant by faith. 

You and I have enemies who attempt to rob us of our identity constantly. They will plant seeds of doubt, causing us to question our destiny and the assignments given to us by the Word and from the Holy Spirit. It is vital that we “test the spirits” as the Bible says. Our eyes may tell us one thing, but our faith in what we have not yet seen is able to keep us through every trial and attack.

Romans 12:3 says we are to think soberly, according to the measure of faith He has given us. We belong to God. Our citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth. We must hold on to our new life in Christ, as His workmanship, and believe God’s Words: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

Faith is something that helps determine the way we see ourselves. Sometimes we think faith is only about the way we see God. When we believe what God says about us, and are fully persuaded Who He is, He will use us in ways we may have never imagined. But it may not be easy. It requires we allow our actions and service to be determined by what God has said in His Word, being fully persuaded “It is no longer I that lives but Christ who lives in me.” It requires us to shake off any perceptions or labels imposed upon us by others or ourselves.

Even Jesus needed to do this. Mark 6:2 tells us many people were offended when Jesus stood to teach on the Sabbath. The people said (in my words), “Heh we know this guy. Isn’t this Jesus, the carpenter, the Son of Mary, along with all His brothers and sisters? Now he wants us to believe He is the Messiah? So his neighbors and friends were offended in Him.”

I have hope. I believe that just as quickly as we see our nation morphing from a loss of identity, we are also seeing the Body of Christ, His Church, realize who they are. Their identity in Christ.

I am not saying each of us will be facing a giant such as Goliath. What we face today is far more difficult to identify. It manifests like the old analogy of the frog in the stew pot. Little by little, who we are as Christians made in the image of our God, are finding ourselves in situations we could have never imagined years ago.

The enemy of the Son of God is attempting to erode the very foundations of our faith, one act, one law, one legal action at a time. If someone would have told you ten years ago what is happening in this Republic, you would have laughed at me.

The Word says God will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares. Are you prepared to commit to His assignment for your life? Our lives are about to change in ways we never thought possible. We must have our roots in the good soil. We must be teaching our children and grandchildren to not be conformed to this world. We must have oil in our lamps while there is still time.

We stay in the Word, hiding it in our hearts so we might not sin against God, as the Bible says. We draw a line in the sand and decide with finality.

Whose side we are on, whose report we are going to believe.

As the enemy fights against us, attempting to destroy us from within, we will, as David, speak out against the attempts to desecrate all that is holy, and refuse to allow him to defy the Church. Remember the translation of that word “defy.” To destroy our faith and all we stand for by, “ripping off and removing all we stand for by stripping away piece by piece.”

We must contend for the Word of God, and for all He has purposed for our lives. The Bible says we are to examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith. It says to test ourselves to know that Jesus Christ is in us or not, so we will not fail the test. 2 Corinthians 13:5.

You need not worry or be anxious regarding how the Lord may use you in the days and weeks ahead. You just need to be ready and willing to respond in faith when He does ask. How do I know you will be called upon? Because we are all One Body.

“We have no power to face this vast army coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12.

“For it is not your strength, but it is God Himself whose is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work (that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose) for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.

It is all Him. And our lives are hidden in Christ. He is at work in you, giving you the desire, the will, and the ability to do what He has called you to do. Is there not a cause?

Ruminate on that.