To see... as I have seen
Taken from a sermon
By Paul Ravenhill
We live in a day of mediocrity where,
We are satisfied just to reach our emotional high in a meeting.
A total commitment to the things of God is exchanged for a mere "assent" to truth.
When our desire for God does not include doing the will of God and carrying through on it.
What does all of this lead to?
A lack of spiritual Reality - of spiritual Passion.
In Psalms 63 David cries out in the wilderness...
(not in the temple,
not on the throne):
"O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
To see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary."
Can we see his intensity - the depths of his cry and the strength of his longing?
Can we see his dissatisfaction with the status quo and his determination to see until he finds?
Here is the responsibility of every Christian - on the mission field, or the homeland, the young, the old--
we are responsible to translate our spiritual vision to an earthly reality.
They've got a saying in South America which says, "To live without suffering is to die without glory."
If there is no hurt,
if there is no challenge,
if there is no enlargement,
there will not be any glory and there will be no fulfillment.
We live in a day when the church is seeking fulfillment.
We heal everybody's hurts, real and imagined; past, present, and future.
We try to get people to feel all right.
We talk about a "good self-image." We're convinced that it is a sad thing if somebody's got a poor self-image. God help us! God pity us!
You know, it's not in what we think about ourselves.
The Bible is talking about a vision of God!
The Bible is talking about a world out beyond!
The Bible is talking about something, done on earth as it is done in Heaven!
Talking about a being put in harmony with God...
and then we will not wonder: "am I all right, or am I not all right; am I okay, are you okay?"
Frustration is the state of the world.
Frustration is the state of the church. If we get to talk one on one with almost anybody, there is always this element, "what I would like to be or what I would have liked to have been, or what I would like to attain to." And we have all these people who are waiting when they are young, waiting and twiddling their fingers and their thumbs. And when they are older, looking back to what could have been but never was. And you've got to face it that in over ninety percent of the young people it never will be. And ninety to ninety-nine percent of the Christians never live to see their dream, but not because God doesn't want to do it.
Once again I remind you of what Tozer used to say, "When we come before the throne of God, we are not, not, not going to be able to say to God, 'God, I would have liked on earth to have reached, to have possessed, to have known such a place, such a condition, such a level of faith or ministry...' or whatever it is. We will not be able to say that because God will turn around and say, 'Child, I gave you everything you needed to fulfill everything you've seen."' He is talking about spiritual vision. God does not demand of us anything He has not shown us!
We've got a lot of people going around trying to transmit something they've only heard about. It's not as easy as we think it is to learn the process. You've all heard the famous saying that it takes twenty years to make a preacher, because, it takes that long to understand and see what God wants us to see.
Look at Job, look at all he had to go through, until there at the end, he said, "Lord, I had heard, but now, now mine eyes see." This is what God wants to bring us to.
I'm talking about transferring the spiritual vision to the natural world around us.
I'm talking about knowing that God has given us a revelation of His truth. Something that He wants us to possess. We're responsible to see.
David starts out here saying, "O God, Thou art my God." You've got to start there.
I remember when I first went to the mission field. There was a man of God down there that had many, many experiences. The Lord had really used him down through the years. One day he came and was talking and he said, "You now, Paul, you have to come to the place where you can say, "This is my God. This is the God who speaks and the God who backs that which I do." This is not just the God of the Bible. This not just the God of church history. This is not just the God of the doctrines of the saints. This is my God. And be able to say, "I know that my God is with me."
Maybe one thing that's lacking in the Twentieth Century is the knowledge that God has total authority. I cannot say, "My God," and then do my will. It's got to be "My God Thy kingdom come." And a lot of times, somehow subconsciously, it's,
"God, my kingdom come.
God my ideas, plans, purposes, desires be fulfilled.
Lord, bless me. Lord go with me. "
We live in such a structured age. I remember when the great discipleship movement first started. Folk thought they had found the secret - "We'll get these folks that don't know anything and we'll teach them all we know and the church is going to go ahead like a 'house on fire.'" It does not work out that way - that's not the way God chooses to do it.
Every time I go out I notice this: people go to church, the person up front says, "This true and this is true and this is true" and everyone goes, "Oh, isn't that right. Amen. Isn't that heavy." And then somewhere along the line he says something that isn't true and everybody says, "Oh, yes. Amen." You know there's no discernment.
And so, David starts out saying, "O God, Thou art My God. All that God is, Thou art to me. I will not look any other direction."
And he's in the desert while he is writing this. "Early will I seek Thee." It's first time wise, but also... with regard to the priorities of life. Before anything else comes ... God!
If we're going to live a meaningful Christian life, we have got to come into that. Is God my reality, or is this world my reality?
That's why people go to the mission field and get wiped out.
That's why culture shock and spiritual culture shock and all of
those things wipe people out.
That's why people in this country come to the church and in times of trial and temptation and difficulty, they wither and die. They've never come into this.
The eternal priority is God.
David goes on to say,
"My flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. To see Thy power and Thy glory so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary."
David had an experience with God. Someone said, "by the time we get to the end of life, each of us has our own Bible." There are words which the Lord has given me which He didn't give to him. There are passages which have become meaningful; there are verses which have been lifted up in my life as sign posts. Dad was telling yesterday - maybe I can repeat this - abut his accident when he was in the burning hotel and jumped out of the window, smashed in to the ground, broke many, many bones. The doctor came and he covered him up and said he was going to die. Dad pulled down the sheet and told him he wasn't going to die. And the pastor of the church came and was there with his face as white as a sheet, four o'clock in the morning at the end of the bed. Dad said, "You know, God gave me two crutches to walk out of this situation." He said, "God told me two things: 'I shall not die but live' and 'as for God His way is perfect."' So, he had two things to take him out of that situation. Well, he hasn't forgotten them yet and I'm sure he never will. You know, there are things that God gives us - these are ours forever.
There are words that Jesus spoke to the disciples that we look back at and say, "isn't that beautiful." But if you have ever heard Him say, being in a place where you really, really need it, "I'll never leave you and never forsake you," that's something you go back to day after day... it grows until finally it takes dominion over all of life. He'll never leave me!
It doesn't matter where I am. It doesn't matter if I've got money or don't have
if I have health or don't have health.
It doesn't matter if the world is falling down.
He has promised He'll never leave me. I walk with Him! And this is what it's all about. I walk with Him-my God.
David says, "I want to see Your power and I want to see Your glory," here in the desert just as I've seen it in the sanctuary.
Probably one of the greatest curses on the church is that we've relegated all Christian experience to a building. Maybe I've said before, but there are mission fields today that are worse than they were a generation ago. They're worse than they were two thousand years ago when Jesus came, because just as God works from life to life, faith to faith, glory to glory, so the enemy works. And every sin and every sickness and every pain and every sorrow and every twisted thing and every hurt and every degenerate thing is added to the weight of darkness, to the weight of oppression which covers a nation. And so, we talk about Christianity and we talk about those tribes and those countries which we've got to enter into and possess the world before the Lord comes and, if you'll excuse my saying, a lot of it is nonsense. When we get right down to the practical, - look at South America. Apart from a few countries, what is the gospel penetration in depth? Can anybody imagine what it is to talk to people that just look at you. Never smile. Never change. You know, all our theories come tumbling down in a hurry.
"In a dry and thirsty land." This is a land where everything, sooner or later, is overtaken and consumed by death. If we go into one of those mission fields, where that kind of a spiritual atmosphere is present, is reigning, we automatically come under the power of that unless there is a greater power of God within us. Now, is it easy to do the work of God or isn't it?
This world, from pole to pole, is a desert place. Even the so called Christian countries, are desert places anymore.
Go over to Europe where the Reformation first started.
Go to Germany, go to England or even come over to this country. We've kept the form, we've kept the tradition. You know what the last thing to die is? The form, the tradition. Maybe it's kind of like a fungus. It grows more as there's more death within. It doesn't die; it grows on death. And so we've got all the form; we've got all the tradition, but there's not very much essence.
There's not very much life.
There's not very much vision.
Okay, how do we get there? Well, we get there by this commitment. There is no such thing as a response in measure. Somebody said that there's nothing worse than somebody who does the Lord's work, giving himself to God in a measure. Of course, we don't consciously do this; we unconsciously do this.
It's called taking care of our health.
It's called being practical.
It's called our responsibility to our family.
I've seen people that were going to go to the mission field but said, "Well, we're just going to stay here for a time and we're going to get married... and then when our baby's born then we'll go down to the mission field. Forget it! That kind of people never make it! Cause the first baby's born and then the second baby and then the third baby and then they start to school and..... You know, if God calls me today, when does He expect me to respond?
If you hear God's voice, it's always today with Him. He never tells me what He is going to be asking or demanding of me next year or six months from now or even tomorrow. The only way is to say, "Yes, Lord. Lord, it doesn't matter what anybody says." There's a lot of seeking counsel which ends up asking people's advice when we already know what they're going to tell us.
Someone talked about life being like playing checkers and you say, "Well, I know I can win. So, I let my opponent, take this piece, and that piece, and another piece, and then I'm going to win." But, suddenly you realize you don't have enough pieces left! You know, that happens to us all the time spiritually speaking. God doesn't want children! He wants men.
A man is somebody who is not dreaming of the future.
A man is somebody who can take the day and face the decisions and the demands and step into life.
"My flesh," David says, "longeth, longeth, longeth." - If it's just a mental thing it won't go very far. It won't go very far at all. "My flesh longeth." It's something that goes beyond my mind. It's something that I can't contain. It's there, and I can't get away from it. My flesh longeth... God, I've got to see,
as I've seen in Your promises,
as I've felt in my spirit,
as I've heard You quicken it through a message in a church,
as I've heard it through the mouths of your servants.
As You've made it real to me. "My flesh longeth." Not my soul longeth, not my spirit longeth, but my flesh longeth. This earthly part of me wants to see the eternal God - see the eternal God doing His works.
God wants a people that have got a vision and say "God, as I've seen, so would I see" in this earth a manifestation.
Jesus came to do the works of God.
The early church did the works of God.
It's not the book knowledge of God that's missing today. It's the works of God that are missing. This is what God wants to lead us into; this is what God has got before each one of us. He has a purpose. He knew us all since before the foundation of the earth. There's a calling. And it's not just somebody else. There have still got to be great renunciations if there are going to be great careers in God.
"Lord, as I've seen." I think I've said before and I'll close with this. After Francis of Assisi died, his disciples mechanized the process and set up the structure of the Franciscan Order and there was one man that couldn't see and he wouldn't come under the discipline they were trying to put on him. And finally the one who was in charge said to this person, , "Brother John, come down from that mountain." You know what Brother John said? He said, "But I've heard another voice."
Man can say what he likes.
Circumstances can say what they like.
The only thing God's interested in is people that have heard "another voice," and who Hear and Obey it to the exclusion of all else.
Copyright © Paul Ravenhill 1997 - http://www.ravenhill.org/