God’s work

light-640768_640Habakkuk 1:5: “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. (ESV)

God’s work is both within and outside us. Paul said God is at work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). But that is not all, he also charged us to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).

That means for God to effectively work in us, there must be a commensurate cooperation from our own end. God is not in the business of forcing himself on us.

Talking about himself, Paul said: by the grace of God I am what I am. But it did not end there. He also said that the grace was not in vain because he laboured more abundantly than others (1Corinthians 15:10). The grace is from God and the labour from him.

Even Jesus had to be given the opportunity to either cooperate with or reject the will and work of God within him. The Father did not force his will on him.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had a raging battle within him, and at the end of it, he said to the Father: not my will but yours be done (Luke 22:41-45). He acquiesced to the will of God. He surrendered to the divine mandate.

That is the way God works with humans whom he had made in his image, created to be capable of making choices, and not just running on instinct.

God does not force salvation on people, you have to receive the word before you can be saved. The writer of the book of Hebrews says: today if you hear the voice of the Spirit do not harden your heart (Hebrews 4:7). That means though God does not want anyone to perish but to come into repentance; that is not automatically the case. You still need to yield to the call for salvation.

The intended result of the working of God within us is to ensure that our life aligns with the will of God. Because our will can sometimes be at variance with the will of God, James and Peter both wrote of the importance of submitting ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1Peter 5:6, James 4:6-7). The hand of is the will of God, it is the operation of God, and our submitting to him is the aligning of our will with his.

This takes the process of the renewing our mind, which is the removing the many junks we have in our thought processes as we to receive God’s own thought processes. In the book of Romans we read: do not be conformed to this world (which is a bastion of rebellion against God), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be a proof of what the will of God is (Romans 12:1-2).

In his time, Enoch walked with God. That means his will was in alignment with God’s (Genesis 5:22-24). He pursued God to the hilt, dying to his own ways to walk on the ways of God, who clearly states that his way is not our way and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Repentance is about coming into alignment with God’s own thoughts, and that should be our ongoing experience as we renew our mind, and come into deeper and deeper experience of God. Peter said that when we repent (change of mind), we will experience times of refreshing from the presence of God (Acts 3:19).

There is the work of God within us there is the work of God around us. After God made man, he put him in charge of his world, he put him on earth to reign and he started with the plants which he was to attend to and the animal which he named, with more responsibility to follow.

The work of God in him, was generated by the breath of God put in him, and that was supposed to lead to the work of God outside of him in the roles he was to perform on earth. But that arrangement did not last. It was truncated by sin.

But Paul wrote of a time when there will be the restoration of the Sons of God which will lead to the liberation of the created things from the futility of corruption, which they fell into because of the sin of man (Romans 8:18-28).

Just as the fallen state of man affected the other creatures, the restoration of man, through coming into the fullness of the possibility of the redemption in Jesus, will be positively revolutionary. So even the restoration of the earth will not be by divine fiat but God working in man and man working that out to transform the earth. This is because God made man to rule the earth and has not changed his mind because his gifts and calling are without repentance (Romans 11:29). So when we see God manifest on the earth in unusual ways, we need to check to see the human element in the equation.

When God wanted to start a family, a nation on the earth through which he will bless the whole world, he picked on Abraham. But it did not happen automatically, Abraham had his roles to play in that arrangement in obedience and commitment.

When Jesus manifested on the earth it was based on a combination of a series of human cooperation starting with Abraham, whose seed Jesus was, according to the scriptures.

There were prophets who prophesied about Jesus. Amos wrote that God will do nothing except he tells his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). And what will the prophets do? The will speak it forth the word, just as God did and the world was made (Hebrews 11:3). Remember that God made man in his own image, therefore, with the words of our mouth, by saying what God says, we become co-creators with God.

When God showed prophet Ezekiel the dry bones, he asked him: “can these bones live (Ezekiel 37)?” Ezekiel had no clear answer. And God told him to prophecy to the bones and after some time the dry bones were transformed to a mighty army. So we see that God performed his works on the earth when we have people speaking as God commands. It is a human-divine cooperation- that is God’s work around us and within us. In his work within us, we yield to him, in his work around us we say what he says.

That is why prayer is so important. One of the final thrust before the manifestation of Jesus was the prayer of Anna. This woman was on a prayer watch that lasted decades, which she did with fasting. That was commitment extraordinaire. Though God said it, it needed to be prayed into reality as we see in the life of Daniel, praying for the restoration of Israel to their land after 70 years of dispersion according to the prophecy of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:1-5).

I believe the prayer of Anna, called a prophetess, (so she was no mean woman, but one under divine direction) has a direct relationship to the manifestation of Jesus. She probably prayed the words of a psalm which goes thus: “lift up your heads or ye gates and be lifted up ye everlasting doors and that king of Glory may come in” as she prayed for the manifestation of Jesus (Luke 2:36-38).

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