Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“May Christ though your faith actually dwell, settle down, abide, make His permanent home in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints, God’s devoted people, the experience of that love; what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it; that you may really come to know practically, through experience for yourselves, the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience; that you may be filled through all your being, unto all the fullness of God, may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself.” 

Ephesians 3:17-19.

 

Just because we walk and talk does not mean we are truly awake. My prayer is that the Spirit of God would shake us from our slumber so we can obtain all the promises He speaks of in the Word. These are not promises meant for after we leave this earth. They are for today. I find it incredible that in spite of all the signs and warnings announcing that we are truly in the last days, Jesus says in Matthew 24 that there will be a mysterious drowsiness that we must discern and overcome. Immediately after speaking to His people about all the various evidences of the end, he began to compare the Church to virgins who all got drowsy and began to sleep in Matthew 25:5. To me that is shocking. Virgins sleeping at the end of the age. It seems incomprehensible coupled with the wonders in the sky above and signs in the earth below says Acts 2:19. We must guard against this phenomenon of spiritual slumber and losing our God-seeking hunger with all our might. Where does this drowsiness come from? I can tell you one thing; I do not want my relationship with Jesus Christ to be one of knowledge without experience. What could possibly draw me away from Him?

What is this slumbering Jesus speaks about in these last days? It first dulls our perception. Soon, our zeal for the things of God diminish and are relegated to the back seat. We still love the Lord, but our vision is clouded as other aspects and what we used to call “the tyranny of the urgent” hog the front burner of our hearts and minds.

The promises and commandments of God must become alive within us rather than being pushed to the sweet by and by. It is in the here and now that Christ abides in our hearts by faith. It is today that He wishes to use our voice, our hands, our words, and our works to speak, woo, and draw those who have not yet heard or received the Good News.

As I continued my study on the truth that we are ambassadors for Christ on earth I found a more complete definition of what that really means. To be His ambassador means to “stand in the stead of; to speak the same words of; to live as an extension of another who desires to entrust and relegate duties, wishes, decisions: as if the one served: to labor on behalf of another; to be a replicant; to know another so well as to be transformed when relaying the plans, desires, beliefs, and wishes of the original.” I was so excited I wanted to dance. Friends, it doesn’t take extensive labor to break down the Words of Christ and grasp the amazing correlation to His will and promises today. Today God is awakening us to the reality of His very presence within us. Can you grasp how amazing that is? It is not an allegory; it is a fact.

So, what does this mean? Does it mean we are part of some exclusive secret group of people who have been blessed to get a small glimpse into the will and desires of God Himself? The ability to hear His voice. To know Him – as Paul states so well in Philippians 3:10-14 – so intimately, that I can confidently express His will, His words, and His answers to questions asked of me. Quite the contrary.

 The Lord is awakening us to what He wants to do in and through us. The Bible clearly states that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. That He is not willing that any should perish. Church, we cannot waste these precious days in pursuing our own personal desires and entertainments. I remember a time I was feeling quite convicted regarding the time I spent watching television after a long day at work. I found it relaxing and entertaining. Was I ever shocked at what I felt the Holy Spirit say regarding my favorite chair in the living room — the spot our remote remained so we could scan the channels looking for something to watch. I discovered the meaning of the word “entertainment” and was shaken to the core. 

Here is the breakdown of the translation of entertainment, “to keep up or prop; to divert and hold captive, to maintain, to hold someone in a certain, purposeful and powerful frame of mind; to toy with, to flirt with, to arrest thoughts or feelings; a diversion, a diversionary tactic to hold one distracted to provide escape or to intentionally entrap; to lull through the senses; occupation; to occupy, occupying the mind through diversion, addiction, or pleasure by merrymaking; dissipation; a spree of amusement or distraction; to invite an entity to amuse, divert, relax, or bring to a state of slumber.” “To fill; a diversion, distraction, to fill up the ears, eyes, or mind between two separate but connected events, duties, tasks, or assignments requiring one’s time and attention to carry out.”

I don’t know about you, but that was an eye-opener to me. Occasionally I will receive a text on my phone informing me how much time I have used my “device” on a given day. It shocks me when I see just how much of my time is spent on my phone, my laptop, and not to mention my television. 

The Bible says confession is good for the soul. When I arrive home at night, after counseling numerous individuals with serious or crippling addictions, abuse, or marital issues, I enjoy turning on the television. I turn on the nightly news, which often leads to a non-beneficial exercise termed channel surfing, to see if something catches my eye. I have had to repent and ask forgiveness countless times. How is it I can spend hours occupied, entrapped, diverted, or escaping when I find it difficult to spend equal time praying or studying the Living Words of God? This is difficult to type. It brings tears to my eyes. It is very difficult to confess. I have asked forgiveness for seeking a placebo rather than communicating and fellowshipping with the Spirit of Christ to find the rest my soul needs. What has this got to do with my topic? Though I am confident you can answer that question, reread that long definition. Do you see the words “divert and bring to a place of slumber?” Church, this is so critical. Today more than any other time in history. 

My life has not been the same since that experience. The way I spend my time has changed. If I am going to be arrested or wooed by anything or anyone, I want it to be Christ. 

When you first decide to depart from the placebo of entertainment, you may not “feel” any different. In fact, you may even feel a bit frustrated. Any addiction or habit takes longer to break than it did to establish. Because of familiarity, we become falsely calmed, lulled, and even entrapped by seeking anything or anyone other than our Creator; the lover of our souls; to grant us the peace and rest we so desperately need. I guarantee, however, others will see it. 

Do you remember what happened to Moses after he spent time in the actual presence of God? His face shined and glowed so much that his friends and co-laborers were afraid to come near him. But if you read it carefully, Exodus 34:29 says Moses himself was totally unaware of the striking change in his physical features and countenance. I am confident that anyone taking the time to read this does not want to be a part of the virgins who discovered they had no oil in their lamps or vessels until it was too late. Sadly, they could not beg, borrow, or steal from those who did have it. That oil can only be collected and evident from a living, intimate, life-altering relationship with Jesus Christ. It does not happen through osmosis. It is through laboring to enter His rest. It is through seeking His face and not just His hands – His provisions. He is returning for a Bride and He is a jealous God.

If it wasn’t so serious and the stakes were not so high, it could cause you to shake your head and laugh at the absurdity of it. When I stand before my King and God, how will I answer for all those hours I used as filler, as a distraction — willingly allowing myself to be taken captive and rocked to sleep by a doppelganger? God forbid. 

This is in no way meant to bring shame or fear upon anyone. We still have a television and a phone. I work many hours a day on the phone. This is a wake-up alarm, a mercy call. I believe it is the grace and mercy of our Lord — quick to forgive, and quick to respond to the one who seeks and cries with all their heart, mind, and soul. Just as Jesus asked John and Andrew, I believe He is asking you and me. “What do you want?” 

What do you want?

Ruminate on that.