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DAILY Devotion

Keeping Secrets

By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer

CBN.com You know how you can read a Bible verse a million times and still not know what it means, until one day the truth really hits home?

There is one concept in the Bible that I have struggled with repeatedly over the last four years and that is keeping spiritual things a secret. There are several instances in the Gospels when Jesus commanded witnesses not to tell of His greatness. Sometimes this meant not revealing a physical healing (Matthew 8:4, the leper; Mark 7:36, a deaf and mute man; Mark 8:25-26, a blind man; Luke 5:14, the leper; Luke 8:56, dead girl raised from the dead). In each of these cases, the healed person was not to tell anyone of what had been done to them.

Sometimes the secret is a heightened spiritual understanding. Several times Jesus told his disciples not to reveal that he was in fact the Christ, the Son of God (see Matthew 16:20, Mark 8:30, Luke 9:21).

Another type of spiritual understanding might come in the form of a vision. Both Matthew 17:9 and Mark 9:9 talk about the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. In each case, the disciples see Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. On this mountain, Jesus reveals His glory. On the way down from the mountain, Jesus warns them not to tell about the things they had just seen.

Why would Jesus during His ministry ask certain witnesses not to tell of His greatness, His power, His will? And why would He ask us as witnesses today to keep our lips sealed about these same heavenly revelations?

It is All in God's Timing

I think there are several reasons why this was the case. One reason is timing. We know that God's ways are not our ways, according to Isaiah 55:8 (Boy, do I know that!). God's timing is everything and it is evident throughout Scripture. In Genesis 18:14 God promises that Sarah will become pregnant at God's appointed time. Ecclesiastes talks about a time for everything. In Matthew 26:18, shortly before his death, Jesus talks about His appointed time being near. Revelation talks about the end of time. Whether you look in the Old Testament or you look in the New Testament, you will find that timing is a key concept. It was key to God's plan; it was key to the ministry of Jesus; it is key to our ministry as Christians here on earth

With this is mind, then, the Holy Spirit often urges us to keep quiet because the timing of that revelation is not appropriate. God's ways are not our ways.

Think about it: Both the field and the sower have to be ready before the seed can be planted and faith can be birthed. Therefore, both those who are receiving our new revelation and those of us who are revealing important stuff need to be ready for what God is doing.

A Plowed Field

Let me tell you about my experiences. I have had prophetic dreams that I believe will come to pass in God's timing. But I have learned now not to reveal all spiritual things until I get the green light from God. You see, sometimes we are not ready for the responses we might get, even from Christians, concerning the things we have heard or seen or experienced.

When others are not ready to hear the things that we have heard from the Lord or see the things the Lord has revealed to us, whether we are right or not is not the ultimate question at this point. We can throw pearls of wisdom to others, but if it isn't God's protocol for us to reveal that wisdom, it is going to get trampled. If the timing is wrong, we might just be accused of being self-righteous, holier-than-thou, a little "weird," or dead wrong. Pushing the issue is only going to get us and others frustrated or angry. Discord can be one result. Another result can be doubt. We might get such a negative reaction from others that we doubt that God even spoke to us. Once doubt has crept into our hearts, Satan can steal that seed of revelation.

In our excitement, we forget that believers are all at different levels of spiritual maturity. We need to be cautious not to cause others to stumble who might not understand the things we do yet. God wants to protect us from the disbelief of others and He also wants to make sure we are strong enough to handle opposition when we do need to tell of His works.

Being a Responsible Sower

Sometimes at the core of this dire need to reveal are personal insecurities and pride. I know I am often tempted now as I was then to divulge spiritual things so that others will consider me a worthy and mature Christian and would think well of me. I want to be considered a a sage. But anytime my motivation is for my own praise, my way of pleasing man over God, I have overstepped the line.

When our self-worth rests in responses from others, watch out. Your faith is going to shake if the response is negative. And without faith, we can't believe God. Without faith we won't act on the things God reveals. And without faith, we are not going to be the light that will bring others to Christ.

If God says no when we want to spill our guts, don't take it too hard. It may just be God's way of training us up in wisdom and patience. He is making us strong and steady and totally under His authority. Let God regain control of those lips. Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you in due season.

And listen to me: One of the harsh realities of communing with God is that some of the things we see and hear are simply not to be shared with anyone. Sometimes it is for us alone. Sometimes it is simply a way to build our faith, bring us comfort, bring us back to God. We might not know why, but God has His reasons.

It is so tempting to believe that God's plan is all up to us and that we must reveal God's plans to others, so that God will move. But beloved ones, we don't make anything happen. Everything begins and ends with Jesus Christ. God's ways always prevail.

The whole point is that if what you have seen and heard and experienced is truly from God, then it will come to pass and the Lord will be vindicated. We don't have to do that for God. God can use us to show the world His power, but we are merely instruments. He allows us to be a part of bringing others to a new understanding of spiritual things, but we should not speak on our own. This is not our personal crusade. It is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Know that when those fruits are evident in your life, when you have gone up the mountain and the glory of the Lord is seen upon your face, if God wishes to use you, people will come to you. They will ask.

As hard as it is for many of us to keep quiet, if we do and God allows us to tell of His wonders at the appropriate time, it will be in humility and God will get the glory. Others will see Jesus Christ, and that should always be our desire.

A Lesson From Joseph

If we need one full-length example of the positives and negatives of revealing God's will, the visions God has given us, take a look at Joseph, the revealer of dreams and visions.

Usually, when we think of Joseph, we remember how he managed to interpret the king's dreams and not only get out of prison and escape death, but be placed in the king's courts, and later governor. This guy got an awesome promotion! When Joseph revealed the mysteries in those royal dreams, he got the royal treatment.

But, before we start concentrating on the good stuff, let's turn back several pages to Genesis 37, when Joseph was first starting out. Joseph might have been a powerful, influential man in the end, but he had a problem with his mouth -- he just couldn't keep the good things of God a secret. You would think Joseph would have gotten the idea that wisdom in the case with his brothers was to keep a secret, but he didn't.

In Genesis 37:5, the Scripture says that Joseph had a dream about sheaves of grain bowing down to him. Joseph's brothers questioned the dream saying, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" It says further, "They hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said" (v. 8, emphasis mine).

OK, so Joseph lost points with his siblings. But that didn't keep him from telling his next dream. And this time, dad got a bit irritated. In Joseph's next dream, he saw the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him (v. 9). This upset Joseph's father so much he became indignant: "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" (v. 10). And of course Joseph's brothers were thinking Joseph was just plain arrogant and egotistical. They called him "that dreamer" (v. 19).

Well, we know that Joseph was speaking the truth and he truly was hearing from God as far as what he saw. But here is something that I think Joseph missed: Did God want that information revealed just then? What would have happened if Joseph kept this nugget of truth to himself. After all, if what he heard and saw was truly God, would it not come to pass since God is always faithful to His promises?

If I can project a minute, I just wonder if life for Joseph wouldn't have been easier if he had kept his mouth shut. If Joseph never gave his brothers more of a reason to make them hate him, would he still have been sold into slavery, thrown into prison? Or would he have bypassed that whole period of suffering and gone straight from being the youngest son to being a leader of the nation? I cannot say for sure, but if does make me think.

Fortunately for Joseph and for us, we as Christians can mess up, sometimes royally, and still gain God's blessings for us. See, God is faithful, even when we aren't. We don't corrupt God's plans. We just sidetrack them until we come back under His authority. Therefore, if you are one like Joseph, like me, like so many of us Christians who haven't quite gotten a hold of the responsibility of keeping the things of God a secret until the proper time, take heart. God forgives; God restores. And He will bring wisdom to you if and when you are in doubt. All you have to do is ask God: Is this something I can share now, ever? Who do I tell? What must my attitude be while revealing these things?

Don't bypass this crucial step. It could save you a life of misery, being mocked for being a "dreamer", or even save you from causing someone to stumble.

Comments? E-mail me.

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