Jan 17, 2007 The Work of God Kathleen Maples Before I started reading these Scriptures, I was praying this morning, talking to the Lord, and telling Him what He already knew-that I so wanted to be pleasing to Him, and that I am so tired of not being what He wants me to be, and I was asking for help from God to fully surrender everything I am and have to Him, because I so desire to be a vessel that people see HIM in and through. I desire when people see me they understand there is a GOD and HE is alive and real. I want Him to be glorified by my life. I get so frustrated with my own self sometimes, and am so thankful for the long suffering of God. After my prayer time, I went to the Word, and it opened up to this verse and it felt like it just leaped off the page at me. I was battling discouragement, and I thank God for His Word which I know is what holds me up and keeps me from falling. Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. I looked at this verse, and felt my heart leap with renewed hope. Only the Lord knew this was one I had held on to for so long, that God was working in me even when it felt like I was getting nowhere. But I had never dug into this verse before, and carefully examined what it was saying. The word for 'worketh' in this verse is energeo. It's probably where our English word "energy" comes from. It means to be active, efficient, be mighty in, to be at work, to effect. His presence and work in us effects or changes us. He causes us to choose or prefer and delight in the things that please God. The word "do" is the same Greek word for "worketh"--it's energeo. Because HE is inside of us, His presence there causes us to want to do the things which please Him. His presence and His working into us His nature, His Word, and His Spirit cause us to have the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him. We have the strength and desire to choose to work the good will of God, to long for His perfect will in our lives. We can trust Him to see it accomplished if we are obedient and do not run and hide from Him. When we hunger for God, when we long for His righteousness and hate our own weakness and know we are totally unable to save ourselves and must depend on Him for everything-we will see He alone is our Resource. He alone is our hope. He will not fail us or forsake us. Php 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: Anything the Lord wants or instructs us to do, we are commanded to do it without murmuring, or complaining. We are to do it willingly, not grudgingly. That word "disputings" means internal discussion or consideration, doubtful, imagination reasoning or thought. He reminded me of some things this morning as I considered these Scriptures. When the Lord speaks something into our lives that He wants to do, first, we have got to realize He speaks to His own, and what He wants to accomplish He is able to. Psalms 115:3 says Our God is in the Heavens and he's done whatsoever he has pleased. He is not dependent on our strength to accomplish His plan. We are dependent on His. He equips us to do His will. We are vessels He can use to accomplish His purpose, through the power of His Spirit, and His strength. We are privileged to be allowed to be part of His work and be used by Him. He does not need us, He honors us in allowing us to be a part of His work, being fellow laborers with Him. I felt somewhat foolish, thinking, this awesome God spoke this world into existence, took pity on my soul, and saved me when I could not save myself, but I have fretted about Him making me what He wants me to ultimately be? What an insult to His power and grace. Lord, please forgive my foolishness. It's been my experience when the Lord would speak something into my heart that He wanted to do, first, my heart would be in awe-first that HE would speak to me, that He would even know my name. That awes my heart and is more than my feeble mind can comprehend. Next comes gratitude, excitement, and amazement. But then, this very thing we are reading about rose up. Inward reasoning, deliberating, questioning. Was that really God that spoke? Did I imagine it? The devil will try to make you doubt. This internal discussion starts happening, and we start considering the possibilities and our own resources. We are inclined to want to do something to help it along. We look to ourselves-and in my case, I began to despair at what I saw. I looked in the Word and dug into it, praying for understanding and delighted greatly in the promises I saw there. But, I soon realized I did not possess what was necessary to accomplish what God said He wanted to do in me. At the same time I was hungry and longing for the fulfillment of the promise, yet knowing I could not make it happen. I spent months agonizing over it, longing for it, and spent much too much time being tormented by doubt, longing for the promise, yet despairing of my own inadequacies. Instead of focusing on the Lord and just rejoicing in the knowledge that HE alone could accomplish what He desired, and trust Him to do it, and yield to His direction, I berated myself for my weakness and inability. But, He would not say He wanted to do something in me He wasn't willing and able to do. I had never paused and considered this verse in Philippians 2:14. I always assumed it meant 'don't argue with God.' But now that I look at it more carefully, that is exactly what I was doing. Inwardly. Looking to self and hating what I saw, knowing alone I was totally incapable and bankrupt apart from the life of God. Entertaining doubts and fears. What if I missed God and lost my opportunity because of all this tug of war inside? What if I failed? But HE is my Source and my Guide, my strength, my provision, and oh, I wish I'd seen this from the beginning. Php 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Who wouldn't want to be faultless? The word "harmless' in the Greek means "unmixed, pure, without mixture of evil, innocent." This is a Christian who does not knowingly partake of evil or anything that is against the life of Christ. They are not living in a mixture of the Christian life while trying to hold to the worldly pleasures that lead to sinful activity. They do not seek their own pleasure but rather the kingdom of God, the will of God. They are unblameable in the middle of a wicked, arrogant and reprobate society. Yes, perverse means the same thing as reprobate. This is a generation that does not like to retain the knowledge of God, no, they would rather deny His very existence, and label His truth a lie, and scoff at anyone they think is foolish enough to believe in Him. Society is living under the dangerous illusion they can live however they choose and make their own rules and not have to face dire consequences for their presumption. But there are children of God out there who shine, in the midst of this wicked world, in spite of the evil all around, and the open tolerance of any kind of sin, God has a people who shine with the truth, the peace and the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember being a sinner, and watching terrible events unfold on the news, and thinking, gratefully, I was glad there was a House of God right down the road from where I lived, and in my mind, I made the connection that the only reason something bad hadn't happened in my neighborhood was because God had some people living near there. I had gone to that church as a child, knew some of the people there, had relatives there, and knew they lived the life, and really knew God. I remember, even being a sinner, taking comfort in my close proximity to the church. But how can we reach this place of perfection? When I look at myself, I see so many areas flawed and imperfect, because the standard is Jesus Christ, not the preacher, not the singer or the choir. It's not my neighbor, or brother, or my sister. It's HIM. He said be holy. He said be perfect. But praise God for verse 13-He will accomplish this by the power of His Spirit working in me that which pleases HIM. Php 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. I have bowed my knee, praise God, and I have confessed Jesus Christ is Lord, and I desire Him to be the Lord of all of me, my heart, my life, my thoughts, my feelings, my time, my money, my words, my behavior, the direction of my life, the activity of my life, even the inner meditation of my heart. My marriage, my home, and all that pertains to me. Be Lord of my flaws, my mistakes, and my failures, and weaknesses, and fears. What saith the word to this? He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. (Phil 3:21). Psa 138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. Psa 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth forever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. Whatever I face, whatever kind of trouble comes my way, whether it's financial, physical, mental, or demonic, GOD is my Shield, and my Defender. He is my exceeding great reward (Gen_15:1) That also includes the rebellion of my flesh, and carnal mind. He is able to change the way I think and react as I feed on Him and His Word. He is able to make me spiritually complete and mature. The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: He will end this war that rages in me between my spirit and my flesh. He will make a complete work of me. This word 'perfect' has two applications here. It means to end, whether in completion or failure, to cease, to perform. What is it about me that needs perfecting? (Completing) My carnal mind needs to die. We have the mind of Christ, Paul said in Php_2:5 1Co_2:16 There are things in my life that need changing. Maturing. He is so faithful and I praise Him for it. I would have no hope without Him. Psa 138:1 A Psalm of David. I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. Let the world have their idols of entertainment and money and fame, in spite of it, I will praise the Lord! He alone is worthy. Psa 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In spite of my flaws, in spite of me, He has loved me, and been very kind to me. He has given me His truth, and He has promoted His Word above even His name. That word "magnify" here means to increase, made large, advance, make powerful, made it greater, more excellent than even His Name which is Holy and Reverend (Psa 111:9). I have the miraculous blessing of being stirred by HIM to hunger for His Word and to receive it and let Him engraft it into me, and make it a part of me as He writes it on my heart, and changes me from within by the power of His Word. Psa 138:3 In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. I could so easily relate to what Paul said in Rom 7:24-25. O, wretched man (woman) that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The flesh wants its pleasure that will lead to eternal death. It's selfish, greedy and never satisfied for long. It has no compassion, no tolerance for holiness or purity. It is weak and corrupt. It doesn't matter how I try to disguise or satisfy the flesh, it can't be made holy. It can't be conformed to God. I don't mean my literal skin. I mean the carnal impulse, the human nature that wants to control everything, be in charge, and make its own rules and seek its own path and do what feels good, regardless of morality or truth. Sometimes, this can be painful. I smoked, heavily, for 17 years. I was addicted to nicotine. I watched my grandfather die from cancer. As far back as I can remember, he'd always smoked a pipe. Watching him die from this didn't phase me when it came to my own smoking habit, which was much heavier than his own. In his last days, not long before they had to increase his pain medication which left him unable to communicate, I talked with him, and I stared into this man's eyes, who'd always been such a giant in my own. He was over 6 foot tall, a policeman, Korean war vet, he had done some good things with his life. But here he had, wasted away from 200 lbs to 95. He was a shell of what he had been. He was wracked with pain, and he looked me in the eye, knowing I had some destructive habits myself, and warned me that I should consider what was happening to him. He told me, "You never know when your body will turn on you." He urged me to change my ways. I just stared at him, wishing this wasn't happening to him, but unmoved by his warning. I was ruled by the flesh and fulfilling its carnal desires, regardless of the consequences. That is where the deceitfulness of sin comes in. Your mind will lie to you and tell you, oh, I got to die from something. It might as well be this. Oh, it will be a long way off. Or, it will happen to somebody else. Not me. Psa 138:3 In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. But I met Jesus. I was reborn by His Spirit. He gave me the desire to stop smoking. He gave me the strength to lay down unhealthy and bad habits. He cleansed me from within and made me a new creature. And the more I learn of Him, the more I want to be like Him. But, the more the flesh struggles to remain alive and war against the desires of the Spirit. The more I eat His Word, the more I think on it, with a longing heart. I cried out, Lord, help! I cried from a heart that hates evil and loves righteousness, and recognizes its own failings and flaws, while hating them. I cried from a heart that loves Him and wants to please Him and serve Him. He strengthened and comforted me. He reminded me HE was still at work and His Word would accomplish. Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. His Word does not fail. Refusing to grant His Word free course and free access is unthinkable. Denying His Word admittance by neglect or deliberation is unthinkable. Psa 138:4 All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Psa 138:5 Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD. I know this may mean literal kings on earth, but when I apply it to myself, all those things that think they can reign unchallenged and stand against the life of Christ in me, will not. His Word is glorious to my heart. His promises are beautiful and wonderful. He is a mighty God and self sufficient, needing nothing. He owns everything ever made. Yet HE knows my name. Psa 138:6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Psa 138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. Psa 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth forever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. He won't forsake me. He won't leave me. He will save me. He will make me what HE wants me to be. And I will praise Him. When I am weak, I can run to Him and He can revive me. When discouragement threatens to overwhelm me, He reminds me of His promises and renews me. He comforts my heart. He picks me up when I fall, and forgives me, cleanses me, and restores me. He leads me and guides me. He teaches me. He watches over me. He talks to me, and shows me great and mighty things I didn't know. It wows my heart that such an awesome God would love me. Php 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: I can agree, and because I'm persuaded of this very thing, namely, that six years ago, God picked up a broken vessel, full of hatred and bitterness, and shame, and haunted by pain and unforgiveness, and He gently gathered me up and healed my pain, cleansed my soul, moved in my vessel and began to completely renovate everything. He is what holds me up. He began this work in me of changing me from a sinner into a saint, and His Word calls it a 'good work' that will benefit me, and those around me, and He will accomplish and finish this work which will continue until it's time for Jesus to come. 2Pe 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 2Pe 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. He's given me grace and peace, He's multiplied it through the knowledge He's taught me of who He is, and how much He loves me. He's revealed to us through His Word that He's already made provision for every need, and promised to supply, so we can have a life of godliness through knowing HIM and what He's called us to be. He's given us the opportunity to take part of His divine nature, and be like HIM and we can because He promised we could. He's made great and precious promises that can't be changed or taken away from us. He's preparing us for eternity, for a face to face meeting. If we are wise, we will listen and obey and follow Him, and not go after the ways and wisdom of the world. If we let His Spirit teach and rule in us, we will be what He wants, and we will make it. We can't manage our own lives anyway. It's not in man to direct his own steps (Jer 23:10) But we have all been dealt a measure of faith that is needed to believe God. The worst thing we can do to ourselves is make excuses for our behavior when it is not approved by the Word of God. He can change us. He can save us. He wants us with Him. He's coming back, so let us grant Him free course to reign and rule in us. We will never regret it. If we don't, we will regret it for eternity.