Understanding God’s Ways

Understanding God’s Ways

He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel. Psalm 103:7

Introduction.

When I was in high school I always wanted to know how the particular math problem I was grappling with fitted into the ‘big picture’. I never had the reasons behind the operations explained to me, at least that I remember, and consequently my understanding was limited. Do you feel that way with the things that happen to you as a Christian? Where do all the dealings of God fit in? Where is all this leading?
In this article we examine some of the ways of God with a view to learning how to cooperate with the Lord in what He is trying to do in our lives in any particular season. If we do not recognize what He is trying to do, we may be found resisting His purposes in ignorance and miss out on His ultimate blessings and purpose. God is the God of purpose, working all that he does according to a strategy and timetable. The secret is to learn what He is doing at any particular time, and not tire ourselves trying to get Him to fit into and bless what we are doing!

The call, the fall and the recall!

Mankind was called to rule and reign on the earth as God’s under regent, having dominion over the creation (Gen 1:26). However when Adam yielded to temptation, mankind fell and so the great recall to dominion status was set in motion by God to restore us back to our rightful and intended position in Him. This process has lasted at least six thousand years and will see its final outworking when Christ returns and the final ‘wrap up’ to this episode of human history occurs. What God is doing on the micro-scale in our individual lives fits into His grand macro-scheme of restoring mankind back to have dominion on this planet under His loving guidance and governorship (Acts 3:21). In case you are not convinced about the call to rule and reign check out the word in Matt 16:19 / Psalm 8:6-8 / Psalm 115:16 and Rom 5:17. They all point to the fact that God has ordained for us to rule and reign.

The question becomes then, over what or whom, when and how?
Unfortunately we see all around us how sinful man perverts this mandate. When God’s purposes are not understood, abuse is inevitable. People are being dominated by others all the time, instead of serving one another. We are to have dominion over sin, selfish appetites and the devil, but never over one another.
Christ came amongst other things to teach us to serve rather than manipulate and dominate. It is in serving that we learn the key to ruling and reigning. All things belong to God to whom we have to give an account. There is going to be an end to all things where God will judge everything we have done according His measurements and not ours. Once again life is not trying to get God to fit into our scheme of things but rather discovering where we fit into His scheme of things. If we serve ourselves then the benefit is short-lived. If we serve God, the rewards are eternal.
Remember God builds from small to large. If we show ourselves faithful to serve in small things, then we can go to the next level. As a wise master teacher, God will not graduate us to the next level before we master the level we are on. He is not into statistics, but committed to producing Christlikeness in His subjects.
All that happens to us fits into the framework of producing conformity to the image of Christ. Of course we have to qualify by our love for Him. We cannot expect difficult circumstances to work out when we are not cooperating with God according to His plans and purposes.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29

Four key elements.

In the process of restoring us back to ruler ship God uses a training and preparation time that involves four key elements:

Relationship,
Character building through testing,
Gifting and empowerment,
Reproduction and fruitfulness.

At any one point in time God may be focusing on one or more of these aspects. Our responses to His dealings will either help or hinder the fulfillment of our destiny. God expects us to respond in faith to His friendly advances towards us. We must also remain committed to His essential goodness if we are to avoid questioning Him when we come under pressure in times of testing.
So God begins with relationship. He invites us into a deeper and deeper relationship with Him. First of all we have to accept Christ as savior and Lord. Then through continuing fellowship with Him we grow in our experiential knowledge of Him. This takes place in regular study of the word, prayer and worship, whilst joining together with other Christians in common kingdom endeavor.
God is ever speaking to us to ‘come up hither’ to where He is. When in His presence we partake of His nature, are transformed as we gaze on Him, and empowered to go back ‘out’ and serve our fellow man in need. Being properly related to God through Christ is no guarantee that we will manifest His nature at all times especially when under pressure. It is in times of testing that we have our faith refined and proved genuine. It takes both the pressure of the convicting word and circumstance to stamp His image on our hearts.
A word of wisdom. We need to discern whether we, or the devil have generated a particular storm of circumstance. In both these cases we are called upon to do something about it. Either repent or take authority over the enemy in the name of Jesus. If we don’t, we can languish under a heavy burden. However, if we are in place of proving that is in God’s overall training program, we have to discern what it’s all about and learn the lesson and pass the test. If we fight it, we could be blowing bubbles into a proverbial thunderstorm!

Working in us to work through us.

Before God can work through us He has to work in us. That is why He develops relationship through both nurturing and feeding as well as allowing us to get into situations where this relationship will be tested. In circumstances like these we may feel that God is far, but if we are to learn to stand in faith and be faithful to His purposes, we have to learn not to trust in our feelings and what we see in the natural realm. The God-kind of faith does not rely on circumstance to chart its course. It relies only on the word of God. The word working in our lives will bring about the necessary change that will open our capacity for God to deposit more of His ability to function according to His purposes.
Character enables us to ‘contain’ God’s gifting for proper use. His gifts are like weapons that can either damage the enemy, or us. Character will ensure that the power of God is always properly directed at the enemy. God’s nature and gifting is imparted to us through relationship. (2 Pet 1:2-4 / 2 Cor 3:18). His gifts are given without repentance. He doesn’t take them away from us the moment we slip up. However the fact that we get to keep the gifts is no guarantee that we won’t misuse them.
Take being filled with the Spirit for example. A person trusts God and is filled with the Spirit and begins to enjoy the newfound power in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the course of time he may yield to some form of pride in the use of his gifts and hurt others in the process. Does God take the gift away? No. However pride lands the individual in trouble with his fellow members and God is presented with an opportunity to build Christ likeness into his character. If the individual responds to God’s correction positively, he will partake more of God’s nature and power. This process will further equip the individual to reproduce after his own kind. This time his fruit will be that much sweeter having learnt the painful lesson on the way.
Zeal can often be misplaced. The zeal we have to use our gifts and talents to change others, ought first to be directed on ourselves. When we are changed then we can reach out and touch others and give them such as we have received. In this way we impart life and not legalistic formulas. Knowledge gained from our own experience has a greater capacity for changing others than mere intellectual assent. When God wants to impact our public ministry, He works in our private lives, giving us the opportunity to put it into practice at home what we need to minister in public.
Our function is to develop and maintain a consistent ministry to the Lord, one another and to the lost. We have to gain dominion over our own flesh first before we can seriously expect others to gain it over theirs. The principle: ‘you reproduce after your own kind’ is God’s idea. He is endeavoring to develop a Christ like character in our lives first, so that our witness consistently brings glory to Him.

Christ and Israel as examples.

At the tender age of twelve, God had already established an enduring relationship with His Son as a caring and providing Father. He then developed character in Him as Jesus (in His humanity) learnt to submit to the imperfect authority of Mary and Joseph. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit later followed as God released Jesus into fruitful ministry but not before he was tested in the wilderness. He then set about establishing a relationship with his own disciples, later developing character in them, empowering them for service and then releasing to go into all the world to reproduce after their own kind. Of course there were some bumpy moments in that process, what with the disciples’ misunderstandings, doubts, and betrayals. Jesus patience, love and commitment ensured that God’s purposes were ultimately fulfilled. All things did work out for Jesus! This can happen for us too, if we submit to His dealings and yield to the training that is needed to bring us to a place of great fruitfulness.
God’s invitation remains firm: be like me! But there’s much water that has to flow under the bridge before we can walk in the authority we are called to. ‘Between the call and the commission comes the college of life.’
The history of Israel as they were led out of Egypt provides another example of this pattern. God first reestablished a covenant relationship with His people teaching them to see Him as a caring provider as they marched towards the Promised Land. The manna, water from the rock, cloud by day, fire by night, all proved His love for them. The problem arose when they came under pressure to possess the land. They failed to meet the character test as they refused to move forward on the word only. Instead they yielded to doubt and questioned God’s intentions saying that He had brought them this far only to kill them! Far from it. God remained committed to training up His covenant people to fulfill their call to rule and reign over their own fleshly appetites, doubts, fears and inadequacies. They were supposed to go straight into the land of promise. Instead, the first generation only knew His miraculous works of provision and protection, but not His ways of increase and fruitfulness! Fortunately, the second generation under Joshua did receive God’s power to take the land. Under Joshua’s leadership they fulfilled their destiny and became fruitful in their occupation of the Promised Land.

Conclusion.

Understanding God’s ways equips us to cooperate with Him in the seasons he has established for growth. To establish a ministry of excellence, know that spiritual growth need not be haphazard or accidental. God has a plan. Know it, recognize His dealings and cooperate with Him.

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