The God Who Fills

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  Ephesians 1:22-23

You probably know that Scripture defines the church as the body of Christ. But did you realize that it defines the body as “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way?” Does He fill you?

Last week we witnessed God perform the miraculous on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-8). God’s glory filled His human temple! And as Jesus filled His disciples with His Spirit, He revealed something extraordinary. He demonstrated the potential of His church.

Dear one, many of us professing to be followers of Jesus Christ live powerless lives marked by defeat rather than living testimonies that display the glory of God. Let me remind you what God spoke through the prophet Malachi,

“I the Lord do not change.”  Malachi 3:6

Hebrews 13:8 confirms, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Jesus has not changed since the day He gave birth to His church. His church has changed.

Many of us seem to have overlooked an important characteristic of Christ revealed in Scripture: Jesus fills. As you consider the following verses, ask God to give you fresh perspective about why He allowed His Son to dwell within your heart.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19

For what purpose did Paul pray for strength and power in our inner being? What desired result will flow from grasping the depth of Christ’s love and establishing our roots there? Verse 19 reveals the divine purpose: that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Dear one, God desires to fill you with the complete measure of Himself. Not just a portion, the full measure. The God who fills both heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24) plans to fill you with the entire magnitude of who He is through His Son.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  Colossians 1:19-20

God poured His fullness into Jesus. Now Jesus means to pour that same fullness into us.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.  Colossians 2:9-10

The crowds at Pentecost witnessed Jesus doing exactly what He was made to do, fill every thing in every way (Ephesians 1:23). As the early believers waited in Jerusalem in obedient submission to Jesus’ instructions, Jesus filled His early followers with His Spirit. The Head took authority over His believing body, resulting in a grand display of glory and power.

Remember, Jesus had already breathed His Spirit into these devoted followers (John 20:22). Their faith in Him had already sealed them as His own for salvation (Ephesians 1:13). But what happened at Pentecost empowered them for service in the Kingdom. They no longer simply possessed God’s Spirit; they were filled by Him (Acts 2:4). And that filling empowered them to reveal Christ to a lost and needy world. People in the crowd from every nation remarked, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11)

Can you imagine how they must have felt that day? The disciples were no strangers to miraculous power. Jesus had empowered them to heal the sick and cast out demons while He still walked among them (Luke 9:1). But what they experienced at Pentecost was altogether different. As Jesus filled them, they became one with their Lord. They weren’t exercising authority He had given them. This time, He filled them up and took them over!

Do you want to know how the early church differed from much of the church we see today? Jesus filled them. They surrendered to Him with sold-out abandon, relinquishing their own desires to live out the will of God. The result was the very presence of Christ making Himself known through them in unbelievable ways.

Notice the common denominator in each of the following Scriptures.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  Acts 4:31

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them . . .  Acts 4:8 

Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  Acts 6:3 

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.  Acts 13:52

And what distinguished John the Baptist, the man who held the great privilege of preparing the way for the Lord?  He was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.”  Luke 1:15

Do you want to live out your eternal purpose on this earth? Do you want to leave a legacy that will survive the testing of fire at the end of days? You will never be an effective witness for very long by trying to act like Jesus. Eventually, hypocrisy will reveal itself and send the very people you try to reach running in the other direction.

The hurting world doesn’t need people who occasionally behave like Jesus. It needs Jesus.

Beloved, we need to stop pretending to be like Jesus and let the Son of God within us be who He is. We need to surrender control and humbly invite Him to take His throne. Jesus means to reveal Himself as Lord, not just in heaven, but over the hearts, minds and lives of all who believe.

Let’s surrender everything and allow the King of Glory to fill His house. The world will witness the glory of God transforming hearts and lives, and . . .

. . .the body of Christ [will] be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Ephesians 4:12-13


The God of Glory

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”   Isaiah 43:6-7

For centuries man has scoured the earth and beyond in search of elusive answers to these haunting questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose?

Scripture settles the matter in one succinct sentence. God created you for His glory.

I’ll let the thought settle on you for a moment.  Your existence—your entire reason for being—centers on one, eternal purpose: the glory of God. No wonder man finds himself driven to relentlessly pursue glory. He was made for it.  Yet man’s quest for glory never truly satisfies the soul.  The glory he chases can’t quiet the longing; the deceiver has convinced man to abandon God’s glory for his own.

Your heart cries out for the glory of God, dear one. It longs to encounter it, to be filled by it. You see, that’s exactly what God’s glory does. It fills.

. . . the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14

Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Psalm 72:19

God’s glory fills wherever He dwells. He sits enthroned above the earth (Isaiah 40:22), and the heavens declare His glory (Psalm 19:1). Yet amazingly, in His great love for humanity, God desires to dwell among men.

He spoke these incredible words to Moses after delivering Israel out of Egypt,

“ . . . have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.”  Exodus 25:8

God gave detailed instructions to Moses for the building of His tabernacle, and Moses did as God commanded Him.

. . . And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:33-35

I wonder how the people felt as they witnessed the sight. What comfort it must have given to observe God’s nearness with their eyes! Yet the gift of God’s glory was not given for nearness alone. He meant to lead them into His extraordinary purpose for them.

In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.  Exodus 40:36-38

God’s glory consumed the place where He dwelled and led His people into their Promised Land. Later King Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem to house the LORD’s glory. When he had finished its construction, he offered up a prayer of dedication before all of Israel. In the midst of his praise, these words erupted from his lips.

“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”  1 Kings 8:27

Indeed, how can a structure built by human hands truly contain the glory of God?

2 Chronicles 7 describes what happened at the conclusion of Solomon’s prayer.

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.  The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it.  When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,

“He is good; his love endures forever.” 

(verses 1-3)

Imagine the sight! Fire descended from heaven to consume their sacrifices as God’s glory filled the temple. And as the watching people beheld God’s glory engulfing His new dwelling, their knees hit the pavement and their faces hit the ground.

The prophet Ezekiel had a similar experience when God gave him a vision,

I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the temple of the Lord, and I fell facedown. Ezekiel 44:4

The sight of God’s glory filling His dwelling place brings people to their knees. Dear one, if you belong to Jesus, you have become the temple of the LORD.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?   1 Corinthians 3:16

Consider what that truth means for you, beloved. Jesus—the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3)— has given His glory to all who believe in Him (John 17:22). His glory no longer inhabits walls of gold, marble or stone. God’s glory now dwells within the hearts of His children. God inhabits the vessels He Himself  “created for [His] glory, whom [He] formed and made” (Isaiah 43:7).

You were created to house the glory of God, and now His glory dwells within you. Based on the precedent set in Scripture, God intends to fill you with that glory.

 “I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord Almighty.  Haggai 2:7

What if you and I committed to seek the LORD for the revelation of His glory? What if we began to fervently pray for God to fill His house? What if we truly surrendered our hearts to God, presenting ourselves as living sacrifices, and invited the fire of God to consume all that inhibits the unveiling of His glory within us?

As the glory of the LORD fills His dwelling place, all who see it will fall to their knees.



The God of Redemption

And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  Revelation 5:9

Last week we explored God’s power over creation. Whatever God desires, He simply speaks, and it becomes so.

Jesus—the Word made flesh—carries all of God’s authority and power.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

When Jesus walked the dusty roads of Galilee, creation knew its Master. Water became wine at His word (John 2:9). Empty nets filled with fish at His command (Luke 5:5-6). Bread multiplied as He blessed and broke it (Matthew 14:19-20). And when a boat carrying Jesus and His Disciples tossed about on a stormy sea, Jesus revealed His authority over the wind and the waves.

Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”         Matthew 8:26-27

He wasn’t just man. He was God.

Jesus reigns as Lord over all creation, and creation bows. I wonder if when Jesus walked on water He simply told the waters not to let Him sink. I imagine creation’s symphony of praise lifting to His throne delights His heart. And I suspect the contrast of man’s rejection and rebellion wounds Him with a piercing ache.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  John 1:10-11

How thankful I am that above all else, forgiveness and love flow from God’s heart toward humanity. Anger could have been justifiably hurled from the mouth of Christ in response to man’s hatred. He who formed them from the dust could have called upon fire to consume them then and there. He could’ve commanded their hearts to stop beating and their bodies would have simply collapsed to the earth.

But Jesus didn’t speak death over His accusers; He offered life. Though they rejected Him, He refused to reject them. Consider Jesus’ words as His body hung broken and bleeding, nailed to a cross by the very people He came to save.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34

That’s a curious thought. Mankind rejected the lordship of Jesus Christ, preferring to beat and execute Him rather than exalt Him within their hearts. Yet Jesus offered forgiveness claiming, “they don’t know . . . they don’t understand.”

Jesus understood what humanity could not yet see. Mankind wasn’t His enemy, but rather the object of His devotion. His foe was the one who had enslaved their hearts with sin and blinded them to the truth.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

At the dawn of creation, man was one with his Maker. The Spirit of God dwelled within Him and man lived free from the burden of sin and its trappings amid the safety of perfect love.

Then Adam and Eve opened their minds to consider the whispers of the deceiver instead of remaining on the sure foundation of God’s truth. Their Maker had told them “. . . you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

Satan offered them an alternative in direct opposition to God’s truth. “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman (Genesis 3:4).

Sadly, they chose to trust the voice of the serpent over the voice of the One who had given them life. Desires aroused by possibility took root and overshadowed truth. They had not known evil. They didn’t understand how desperately they should fear it. They simply liked the idea of being like God. So they ate . . . and in that moment, they rejected the Lordship of their Creator and unwittingly submitted themselves to a new lord. God’s Spirit departed from man and evil took its place. They discovered the terrifying reality of Romans 6:16,

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

If only the enemy had given full disclosure. But that’s not his way. His realm is darkness. And his hatred of God set his primary objective squarely on that which God loves most: humanity. He stole the object of God’s affection as his own, enslaving our hearts with sin. He’s been manipulating and destroying us ever since, his deceitful lies convincing us we want him to.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Romans 7:24-25

Jesus loves you enough to die so you can live free.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Colossians 2:15

Our penalty has been paid and man’s bondage to sin is broken. Jesus has come, “to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’” (Isaiah 49:9). He has released His Spirit to once again enter the heart of man and restore our fellowship with God.

Jesus has reclaimed your right to choose who will reign within your heart.

Who will you choose, beloved? Who will you trust with your tomorrows? Will you continue to walk the path of darkness, blindly following the destructive desires of your enslaved heart (Jeremiah 17:9)? Or will you join creation’s song and allow The LORD Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6) to ascend His throne within you?

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. Romans 8:19

Beloved of God, will you be counted among them?

The God of Creation

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  Colossians 1:16

God’s voice cut through the darkness, “Let there be . . .” and there was.

Consider the implications of that truth. God calls His will into existence by merely speaking it.  Whatever He desires, He simply says, and it becomes so.

And so the world we live in came to be, an expression of God’s desires voiced into existence. Our opening Scripture reveals that all things not only came from God, but came into being for God. Unfortunately, human beings remain the only element of God’s creation that refuses to recognize that.

Scripture repeatedly affirms that creation recognizes and submits to the voice of its Maker. One of my favorite stories of God’s might revealed in creation comes from Joshua 10. Joshua had been called to lead the Israelites into battle with the Amorites, and God had promised them victory. After marching all night into unfamiliar territory, the Israelites took their enemy by surprise, and God Himself entered the battle.

. . .the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.  Joshua 10:11

I hope you catch the image that verse suggests. The Israelites were in hand-to-hand combat with their enemy, yet as they fought, giant hailstones fell from the sky, striking their opponents and missing them. The hailstones obediently fell only upon the enemies of God.

That’s not the only miracle the Israelites witnessed that day. With God’s help they were winning the battle, but another problem loomed before them as their enemies fled. The sun would soon set and Israel would have no way to pursue the Amorite soldiers over unfamiliar ground. So Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still and put off setting for a bit, and the God of Creation granted his request.

So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.  Joshua 10:13

As students of science, you and I know that the rising and setting of the sun has nothing to do with the sun’s movement at all. We experience the phenomenon as the earth rotates on its axis, bringing the stationary sun in and out of view. For the sun to delay its setting, the earth would have to stop spinning.

Dear one, the God who created the earth has the power to stop its rotation if He chooses—even while simultaneously keeping its tides and tectonic plates from rebelling over the disruption. God made the sun stand still for His people, and yet no devastation occurred as a result. The whole earth submitted in humble obedience to its Maker.

Imagine that. All of creation worships its Master with humble obedience to His every whim. All, of course, except for man, the crowning jewel of all He made.

The story of Jonah proves that conclusion as well. Priscilla Shirer pointed out that truth in her Bible study on the short book.  Consider this thought: In all four chapters of the book of Jonah, every earthly element in the story bowed to the will of God at the moment He desired it to—all, that is, except the main character. Jonah alone refused to obey God.

Think about it. A storm stirred up on the sea and then quieted at God’s command. A giant fish swallowed a man without harming him and then spit him out at the word of the Lord. God commanded a vine to grow and provide shade for Jonah; then He commanded a worm to destroy the vine, and it did. Even a scorching east wind whipped against Jonah’s head while the sun blazed down on him in obedience to God’s desires.

Creation knows its Maker, and it responds to Him with obedience to His will. Man alone rebels. At times the rocks cry out in worship because the sons of men do not (Luke 19:40).

Perhaps a question rises to your lips in response to these truths. Why? If God need only speak His desires into existence and they become so, why would He not simply create man to obey Him like the rest of creation?

Beloved, God had something special planned for the delight of His heart. He didn’t make a mistake when He made man. He looked at Adam —made in His image—the pinnacle of His creation, “and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

But God’s purpose for man differed from all else He made. He created man in His own image; God created man to give and receive love. And for love to truly exist, it must be offered freely.

God didn’t want human beings to love Him because we had to. He wanted us to choose to. So He gave us a gift He withheld from the rest of creation. To man He imparted free will.

Understand, beloved, Adam’s choice to step out of His will didn’t surprise God. He knew in advance the pain He would feel as He watched the enemy shackle man’s heart with sin’s chains. He knew the rejection He would suffer as over and over He watched His people make destructive choices and turn their backs on His way. He knew that most would not care to open their hearts to His love.

But He also knew that some would choose to know and love their Maker. And He knew that pure love flowing from the redeemed heart of man was worth whatever cost, even the life of His Son.

Jesus,was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:20).

One day every knee will finally bow in worship of the One True God. Creation will rejoice as mankind finally bends its stubborn knee to acknowledge its Creator. For many, that day will carry with it unspeakable dread. The hearts of others will flood with joy as their eyes finally rest upon their beloved King.

Dear one, what will that day hold for you?