DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
AN AUDIENCE OF ONE
In Matthew chapter six we find a very comforting aspect about our personal intimacy with God that confirms His awareness of what we think and how we feel. In verse four, six and eighteen we notice the phrase, “and thy Father which sees in secret. Years ago the Lord gave me a song called, “God sees, God hears, God knows.” The “secret place” where He “knows” is our conscience and the location where the bond of our salvation abides. This is the innermost area of trust where we can follow Him even unto death because we know our anchor holds forever. Our bond with God goes far beyond human love or any fleshly emotion and no matter how much persecution or the pain of our sacrifice, we will stay focused on Him alone. Walking in the Spirit means we have come to the place where we do not care what others say about us. We are joyful and content as long as we can hear His voice and feel His presence.
It is hard to imagine living without electricity or seeing abandoned church buildings. Many cannot even comprehend a worship service without the videos, graphics, lights, computers, instruments, sound systems and air conditioning that enhances our church experience. May we be careful that we do not spend more time playing with our toys than being with our first love. Our prayers and praise are not something we generate to prove our holiness or devotion in public but it is an “overflow” from our private closet and personal time of intimacy with Him. This level of spiritual learning and knowing that (hopefully) we are now developing will be exposed when the plugs are pulled and the doors are locked. The same is true with our faith and love; those who are not investing their time wisely now when we have so many resources and opportunities to minister – will struggle to stand strong when all of our “comforts” are stripped away. This does not mean that we cannot live in more joy than we have ever experienced before, in fact it reminds us that His presence is ALL we will ever need or desire. Is Jesus alone enough to satisfy you? “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8
Those of us that are married have learned that love grows. We listen, laugh, cry, reveal our most secret thoughts, pour out our views and learn to trust and “know” our soul mate deeper everyday. And so it is with how we grow in our bond and adoration with our Lord. We come to Him with a pure humility and with as much sincerity as a human can have, (we call it; with our whole heart) and just crawl into his lap and lay our head on his chest in perfect peace. This is a place where the chaos of the world, the fears, worries and stress cannot find us. It is a place where we do not have to perform or need to live up to an expectation. In His presence we do not seek respect, honor or recognition. We do not have to fight for our rights, try to explain or wait in line for His attention. We simply relax and enjoy the contentment of being close to Him. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.” Psalm 91:1
One night I was visiting a church and after the teaching they began to praise God with no time limits and no hurry to leave. In the service I was feeling the freedom and power of God’s Spirit to just “soak” in His love and peace. It was so enjoyable to feel His tangible presence as I would go to the alter and talk with God then walk around waving my arms with joy. While I was in somewhat of an intoxicated state a wonderful lady came and handed me a small note and walked away. I looked at it with glazed eyes and it said, “Billy, live only to please God – worship to the audience of one!” My throat tightened and I felt a tear fall down my cheek as I thought of how profound this message is to my heart. In ministry we have so much to think about and voices that try to influence our direction but it is so important to stay focused on the King. There is no higher purpose to serve, no greater reason to live than to constantly seek His face and listen to His voice. “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Notice the words from “Show me your Glory”; “I long to look on the face of the one that I love, long to stay in your presence it’s where I belong.” The desire to look into the face of the one that we love and adore them with all of our heart is the deepest need of human emotion. But this passion is even more profound than our mind and thoughts; it is the cry of our spirit to the Father of all creation. Our spirit loves to be as close to God as possible. Our spirit never gets tired of seeing His glory, soaking in His presence, serving Him, praying, learning, reading, studying, loving people, and is never bored with dreaming about Him. It is our flesh and the negative influence from the dark side that constantly gripes and complains about us going to the extreme with the Lord. The two natures are directly opposed to one another which reveal what spiritual “warfare” is all about. The enemy tries to influence our old mind to live for self – as the Lord desires to transform our mind so we can join forces with our new spirit and live completely for God. Living in God’s presence makes our spirit man very happy but distance from the Lord is what makes us sad and miserable. What is keeping us from being a complete fanatic for God?
After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, the forest rangers began to hike up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched like a statue on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast…she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live. God loves us as individuals and does not consider us as just a part of a flock. He would have died for you if you were the only person on earth. You are designed with a specific identity – not just a blended voice in a choir. He loves the one on one relationship with you. “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will trust. His truth will be your shield and buckler. You will not be afraid for the terror by night; neither from the arrow that flies by day” Psalm 91:4
We see an example of personal worship with an audience of one in Mathew 26, when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper. Verse 7 say’s, “There came unto Jesus a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.” You would think the disciples would have seen this as an honorable act of anointing and worship but actually became upset. Because of the high value of the perfume they thought it had been wasted and thought if someone had intended to donate it to the ministry it should have been sold and the money distributed to the poor. Jesus spoke up and said the woman was proving that He was more valuable than anything on earth and in the future let it be known that wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, this act of adoration will be a testimony of her love.
Jesus lived perfectly and his life brought glory to his Father in all of His words and deeds the same as we should. He willingly gave his body to be crushed like a rose and the holy fragrance was so beautiful to the Father that it paid for the sins of everyone who would believe. When we give our heart and will to God it is a sacrifice of praise and surrender unto obedience and this is received by the Father as an acceptable sweet odor, an offering of spiritual incense that pleases Him. “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” (Ephesians 5:2) Is your life a sweet smelling aroma to Him?
Another similar story in John chapter 12, reveals Jesus visiting at the home of Martha and Mary. We find Mary wanting to show her affection by rubbing His feet with spices as an act of worship and adoration. “Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Judas was the treasurer and carried the money and was angry about how the perfume should have been sold and the money used to help the poor. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always you have with you; but me you have not always.” You can picture this scene in your mind and it is a beautiful example of someone having their priorities in the right place. She was blocking out the stress, distractions and concerns of this life because she is mesmerized in the aura of His person. She discarded what this realm considers valuable and wise and is only concentrating on the revelation of who He is – not just what He can do. She doesn’t care what people think or say about politically correct worship. She is so focused on her personal relationship with God that nothing is more important than becoming one with Him. She realizes the freedom of not living according to religious traditions or to a system of rules but she has committed her heart to live only to the audience of God Himself. All He has ever wanted from anyone is devotion and adoration – a humble, sincere heart of love – not a performance. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Mathew 6:21