Will the real Jesus please stand up?
I was asked to contribute to a devotional this week. I had prepared three points talking about who Jesus is to me. But I made the “mistake” of praying this morning. Jesus really messed up my whole message. While I was praying I told Jesus, I want the real you. I don’t want the idea. If there is any area in me that I am failing to REALLY worship you in, give me revelation.
I heard one word, “Provider.”
Listen y’all, I can tell you all day about Him being provider. I can explain it to you from the Bible and call up verses from memory. I can give you theology, but that is trash! It literally has no value apart from the vine. It’s garbage compared to revelation that comes from intimacy with Him. Mental ascent and lip service is nothing to God.
Knowing about water and describing its properties does not fill your cup with water. And it definitely does not satisfy thirst.
Let’s become little children again.
Everything to brag about…
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.– Philippians 3:7-11 (NASB)
You know what my first thought was this morning? “But Jesus, I asked about You. God the Father is my provider.” Theology had me arguing with my Savior. I wanted to know who Jesus is to me. That was supposed to be the theme for the devotional. When He said something I didn’t get, I assumed He wasn’t answering my question or I didn’t hear Him right. When I think of the Trinity, guess who comes to mind first as provider. God the Father. It’s our earthly fathers that provide for us, not our brothers.
But Jesus was answering my question and I did hear Him right. The thing is, I’ve been writing lately and I’ve been hung up on a chapter in my book. It’s impacted the way I am feeling about my capability to write. This morning I was like, “Really Jesus? You’re my provider?” Then Jesus reminded me of my writing and the need I have been feeling, and He brought one verse to mind. John chapter 1, verse 1. Jesus is the Word.
So He is my provider AND He is the Word. I have nothing to worry about on the writing front. He will give me the words to say.
Can I get real for a minute?
I didn’t have many friends growing up. Other kids made fun of me a lot. That’s the experience of a lot of people. But what is hopefully not most people’s experience is… for many years I hid that I was molested regularly from the age of 7. At some point, I learned to hide and lie and pretend things were ok, but on the inside things were far from ok. I kept people at a distance and wasn’t myself for fear of rejection. My past tells me a lot of lies, among them is that I’m not wanted. It says that I am different and I have to hide that to be accepted.
I was in a prayer session with a couple other believers recently and we were working through some of this stuff. If all that my past tells me is true, when we asked Jesus to tell me what He says about me, why did I hear Him call me “a joy”? Why did He say, “my friend”? Why did He give me a picture of us walking together, His arm around me and us laughing?
I wasn’t led to this revelation by the fellow saints and ministers praying with me. I didn’t conjure this up in my own mind, I would never use “a joy” to describe myself. And up until this point I had gotten very little out of our time together, because I had all the answers lined up. I knew the theological answer to my value in Christ. But Jesus sucker punched me with the revelation that I am His joy. That wrecked me in a good way!
Jesus is REAL!
Is theology good? To an extent yes. Until it gets in the way of Jesus telling you what He has to say. I would throw it all away in order to get it out of the way of Jesus. When I go to pray or read my bible, my head is filled with theology. I’ve read every verse multiple times. I’ve listened to a lot of teaching. When I’m not careful, I think I know all the answers. Honestly, when Jesus said, “provider” to me this morning. After the initial argument, I thought, well I know that, Lord. I know You are my provider.
If I know that, why do I ever worry about fulfillment and His calling on my life? Why do I worry about my children’s health? Or making ends meet? If He is my provider, I never have to worry.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.– Matthew 6:30-33 (NASB)
No really, who’s who?
But what does Jesus want to say to you? Who does He say He is? Who does He say you are?
Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice. Religion and theology says that verse is about Jesus calling us or predestination. But let’s become like children again. We can hear His voice.
I want you to take a minute and be still and listen, because I’ve written a lot, but what makes all the difference is when He speaks. You’re going to ask Him who He is, and then be quiet and listen for a minute. After that you’ll ask Him who He says you are.
Pray this to Him as you read it:
- Jesus, who do you want to show me that you are?
- Jesus, who do you want to show me that I am?
Now wrestle with Jesus over what He said for a little while, and then tell us about it in the comments below.
God speaks Hearing God Jesus is real Listening Prayer Provider Theology Writing
I lived 59 years hearing God speak sporadically. My experience with theology was much the same as yours. In the fall of 2013 I was challenged to make “hearing God speak” a life style, a “praying without ceasing” kind of dialogue that one could have with God about anything and everything. Obviously some things are more important than others, but a good habit is a good habit!
6 months later I was walking into an ultra-orthodox Jerusalem Jewish synagogue with a “rabbi” that I had met 2 hours previously. I watched as members were preparing to worship the word of God. I had seen this worship of the “Word” at the wailing wall just two days before. This synagog experience was surreal, as the place looked, felt and behaved like my boyhood church. It was as if God placed his hand on my shoulder and then the words “See what I’ve delivered you from?” went through my mind.
I was raised, and for much of my life I worshiped the “Word of God”, the Bible, rather than the God of the Word. Knowing God and knowing about God are profoundly different. The lost know about God. The “theology” of Romans 1&2 tells us that. I have dwelt in faith communities that made much of having a personal relationship with Christ only to depersonalize it, theologize it away.
We walk by faith. We serve the “living” God. Mere words won’t do. It is so neat to see someone young pressing into the heart of the Father, hungering and thirsting for His presence, His voice, His action. Keep up the good work. God is pleased.
Robert Morris of Gateway church has a new book out. It’s on Amazon/Kindle. It’s called “Frequency”. It’s all about hearing God speak. I’m in chapter 4. It’s very good.
Timely. And “theologically sound”. I’m “working” my way through it. On what little I’ve read, I’d recommend it to anyone who thirsts.
Hey Steve, thanks for your testimony about walking with God relationally, your encouragement, and recommendation. I also enjoy Pastor Robert Morris’s teaching and have had the opportunity to listen to a few of his messages in the Frequency series. I appreciate your input, please continue contributing!
John, this is so real, so enlightening, thanks for sharing from the depths of your spirit. I’ve been a Christian forever…but I love how God continues to teach me, I’m never to old to learn more about the One that gave me life. Keep doing what you’re doing, I love reading your posts, they are powerful for sure1
Thank you for sharing your experience and the encouraging words, Jeanette!
This is so powerful- theology does not help us become like children and know and be known by Jesus. I’m excited to continue to pick see this and pray these things. And I’m excited to listen and hear 🙂
Thanks for your childlike faith and pursuit of Jesus. You’ve always had such a genuine heart towards Him and it’s great how He uses you to encourage others.
I think there is a delicate balance with theology. I am really thankful for all that I have learned in studying. I just don’t like it when my heart is not in line with the knowledge and I don’t really pursue Him in that area because I think I’ve got it already. And there has been a lot that I wish I had received from God earlier, but the answer I had in my head got in the way of the truth. There’s elements of that that we can’t avoid until we meet Him face to face though.
I like your focus on being childlike and relational with God.
Thanks for sharing part of your story, John! Seeing you follow Jesus and love him more and more is one of the most encouraging parts of my life. I’m so happy you’re my friend! You’ve brought so much joy since you joined our family. It makes sense that y’all were laughing in the picture Jesus gave you because you make us laugh all the time!
The words that came to mind were protector and daughter. I’m excited about what Jesus is teaching me through this.
Thanks so much, Vickie! I’m so thankful to get to be part of your family. The words God spoke to you sound really good! I’m glad your listening and hearing Him!