“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:16, emphasis mine)
It’s not “the Gospel according to me”. That would be ridiculous. I’m referring to the ownership that Paul had taken over the story of Jesus. Paul made the Gospel his own and it lived through him. He submitted to the same sufferings of Jesus in order to establish in Asia Minor the churches that God wanted and that Jesus died to found. We also got half our New Testament from him. These things flowed out of what God had done in and for him. It’s God’s story, told through Paul.
The story of God predates humanity and we are part of it. So what’s your story? How have you taken on the words of Jesus and applied them to the life in which you find yourself? This is of utmost importance as this is one of the ways that believers are able to overcome the devil. It says in Revelation that “they overcame him (satan) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Your testimony, the story of how you and God met, holds all the clues to your life in Him. Rehearse it. Tell it back to God before bed (God doesn’t sleep, He watches over us as we do, though. See Psalm 4:8). I guarantee you it’s impossible to overstate. Everything in your life was in order and…! You met your Creator. And nothing was the same, right?
I hope this is so in your life. My life changed when I met God—really met Him—by looking at the ways that He had already revealed Himself to me. Just because I accepted the Lord at four years old (a decision that He honored, even at that age) doesn’t mean I immediately began seeing Him as I do now. God revealed Himself to me—effectively removing certain scales from my eyes—when I began to study His word first and then began to piece together a series of intimations He had given me over the years. Then, as odd as this sounds, when I was about eighteen, I began to feel, to know that I was born again. In spite of possessing that status for fourteen years or so. And with what I see now, I am able to see His hand in my life more fully. It’s funny how that works.
And now the fun starts. Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9) and then He and Jesus (see Matthew 11:28-30) carried the vision through the slog of trials, suffering and hardship, eventually leading to his martyrdom in Rome. After I began to see and know God, I had an anchor that held me fast while my suffering began and continued through my early twenties.
“And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:10)
The moral of the story is “God requires that which is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). If you’re having some issues in receiving and/or hearing from God then take a look back to your past to how God has already revealed Himself to you. Because He most certainly has. Revel with Him in that revelation for a while. Worship Him too. God will take any worship you feel like giving Him (see Psalm 50:23) even if you don’t feel it (“…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” Isaiah 61:3)
Tomorrow we’ll cover another topic that might (will) keep us from hearing and receiving from God. To be continued…