I mentioned a few weeks ago about my not having peace about a certain project that we had been pursuing. That project was the purchase of a home here on the East Coast. As I investigated the lack of tranquility that I found myself experiencing I noted that for one, I was not yet very familiar with the area. We have covered a lot of ground since we moved here in May of last year, but I realized that I still do not really know most of the specific neighborhoods and countryside of the cities and towns that surround us. Along with this sketchy knowledge is some other unknowns that concern our last hold-out-in California kid’s whose plans include moving out here in the near future.
As I look back over my adult life, I see that I have never been one to make decisions too quickly. Although there may be a few in our extended family that feel that I have been a bit impulsive in some of the major decisions we have made in the past, if the truth be known, they would actually come to understand the hours of prayer, inner wrestling and research that I pursued before committing to anything.
For example… after distinctly hearing from the Lord about attending Bible School in Oklahoma, I took a year to pray and understand the ramifications of such a move before I told anyone (except my wife who I told on the night I heard the Lord’s voice) including our kids. Then we took another year to physically plan for the transition to the Mid-West from the West Coast. During that period the Lord worked many miracles for us. We had a brand new house to move into at about half the price of the going rate back there, a job transfer from one Home Depot to another as well as most other arrangements set before we put one mile on the Suburban!
The same can be said for the return trip and a few years later, with our move out here! I guess you could say that I like to know as much as I can about where I am going before I make a move! Similarly my wife and I dated for about three years before we got engaged and then went another two before our marriage. I am not saying that this was precisely planned, but it definitely set the stage for the way we would do things in our life as one. We discussed children early in our marriage but decided that we weren’t ready for kids, nor did I feel like I was willing to share Piper with a growing family as of yet. After five years of our marriage though, we were quite ready and excited about starting our family!
This morning I realized that I have followed the same pattern when it comes to knowing the Lord. From early on in our marriage I have found myself hungering after the things of God. As I have told before, Piper and I were ministering for the Lord as a team before we got married and transitioned right into a staff position at our church about two weeks after returning from our honeymoon. I was thinking this morning of all the times over the years that I arose before daylight to spend time alone in the Father’s presence in His Word and prayer. There was a time in the late 1990’s into the new century where I would arise at 4:00 AM every day to pursue His presence.
I have also been a student of the healing and Pentecostal revivals that occurred across the world throughout the last few centuries. If you take a look at my library you’ll find countless books on these demonstrations of God’s power. But what I also came to see this morning was that over the years I have tended to seek the power of God rather than following after His love.
My wife and I have seen many mighty works of God from healings to phenomenal physical moves of the Spirit. The last time I preached and had the opportunity to lay hands on people, a few years back, I could physically feel the power of God going through me into the bodies of those I touched. It was an unexplainable, dynamic and wonderful experience! But once we left the building that day, that feeling was gone.
Over the last few years in the journey that my wife and I have been on with the attack on her health, I have come to appreciate the lasting effects of the intimate knowledge of His love that is far greater than the experience of His power. I am not belittling the importance of His power, but I have learned that we must first seek and come into an ever increasing intimate knowing of His love before we can fully appreciate and fully utilize His power.
I came to understand that the Apostle Paul must have felt the same way as I read from Philippians 3:10 earlier today. The Amplified Bible reads: “For my determined purpose is to know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly – and that I may in the same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection – which it exerts over believers…”
I got about half-way through this verse this morning when the thought hit me that Paul was a very, very hungry man! Hungry for more intimate knowledge of the One that appeared to him many years previous to the writing of this epistle. Verses 4-6 document all of Paul’s impressive credentials as a religious leader, but he calls it all “rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7 God’s Word ©)
As I read this verse I saw that the Apostle seemed to be setting about an order in His pursuit of God. First he desired to “know” Him and THEN His power. When I look back on my life, I see that I had those two things backwards! Hopefully I now have my priorities in the right order… and maybe just in time… Over the last few years I have been reading books that document the renewed understanding of the love and then the miraculous power of God returning to the denominational churches. It sort of has the feel of the Charismatic movement again… Not quite the same since there has been a lot more teaching on the love of God, and the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit since then.
I’d like to share some insights on this tomorrow, but for today, let me ask you… Where are your priorities when it comes to the two subjects that the Apostle Paul discussed at the beginning of the third chapter of the book of Philippians? Do you have the things of God in the right order? Think about it… then pray about it… then make any necessary adjustments!
Have a great day. Stay in tune to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… What priority am I expecting to follow today?”