Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Being Close to the Lord

I've heard all my life about the importance of your walk with the Lord.  I've heard sermons on how to have daily devotions, how to walk with the King, and how to pray and the importance of prayer.  Sadly, I cannot say that I had much of a consistent walk with the Lord when I first went to college.  When I got there, I saw all these guys every morning in the lobby, in the basement, in the loft, and in their room on their knees or reading their Bibles.  Granted, a few on their knees prayed while making an interesting snoring sound, but nonetheless it was quite evident that this was something everyone just had to do.

I remember hearing talk about "so & so" who "never has their devos!  It was no wonder they were getting demerits for breaking rules; yet the guy saying that didn't have time to vacuum the floor because he was having his devotions.

I did really start a walk with God in college.  I spent time daily praying and reading; unfortunately, as with a lot of things at college, it became mechanical.  This is a great danger amongst all of us.  Things can become so mechanical and duty oriented.  I'm not saying I didn't grow and I'm  not saying that God didn't hear my prayers, but ritualistic it became.

I would try some new things to "get more" from my devotions.  I started reading Wiersbe's "Be Series" along with my Bible reading to get more from it.  I started prayer journals where I listed all my requests and daily went over them.  I memorized some Scriptures.  I wrote down the thoughts the Lord gave to me in notebooks.  I did about everything I could think of or was preached at to do.

Again, I learned some great things and did grow in knowledge of the Lord. Still, something was missing.  For years life was that way.  Since my freshman year at college I have had a most consistent time of prayer and reading His Word and have benefited from it.  Yet, still something missing.  Recently, a preacher friend read to me Psalm 100:
....come before his presence with singing.....enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
The whole point of having devotions is to hear from and talk to the Lord; to be in His presence.  What was missing before was not that I wasn't reading or praying, but His overwhelming presence.  I'm not talking about some emotional workup.  I just mean the enjoying of the presence of the Lord in my life.  Again, we can get so mechanical and "DO" what we are supposed to do, yet miss the One we are doing it for.

The Scripture is clear, we are to come before His presence with singing and into His courts with praise being thankful because He is good!  In the Old Testament, the high priest would not dare enter the Holy of Holies without first giving a sacrifice. Yet, we expect to enter the presence of God without doing the same?  No, not an animal or blood sacrifice, that has all been taken care of on Calvary!  Instead, as Hebrews 13:15 says,
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
The problem with many of us is that we don't take the time to be intimate with the Lord.  To listen to that still small voice.  To stop and not check off another four chapters of reading and give God our list of needs, but replace all that with "Lord, I love you," and then be still.  Enter with praise!  Thank God daily for Who He is and what He has done for you.  Do it throughout the day.  It is said of Daniel in Daniel 6 that he had a "most excellent spirit."  How did he have such?  Simple, Daniel 6:10 tell us:
...he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Thanking God, praising God, consistently is what opens our eyes to the presence of God and allows the right spirit to control our lives.  Three times a day Daniel thanked God.  It was "without ceasing." Friends, we give God 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or whatever we do in the morning like a good little Baptist, but miss the presence of God in our lives because we don't spend the day with Him!

Yes read His Word and pray, but friend after and in between just taking the time to praise Him.  Enjoy His presence not in a time slot in the morning or evening, but throughout your day.  Tell Him you love Him, praise Him and thank Him three times a day and allow that most excellent spirit to be in you.

I've always wondered in John 13 after the Lord told the disciples that one would betray Him how they didn't know it was Judas.  If you remember, Peter motions to John (the disciple who Jesus loved and the disciple that was lying on Jesus' breast) to ask Jesus.  John asks the Lord and the Lord says "He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it."  Then Jesus dips the sop and gives it to Judas and the disciples still didn't know it was Judas.  I always thought, "How can the disciples be so ignorant?"

I believe now that they didn't know still because I believe that John heard the Lord say what He did because he asked and he was close to the Lord, but the others would have to wait to learn. No other Gospel speaks of the sop, because the others didn't know.  John would not have a chance the remainder of that night to share these things with the disciples until after the betrayal.

Point is, the disciple who told the Lord he loved Him and to whom the Lord loved, the disciple who was closest to the Lord learning upon His breast, is the disciple who heard some things from the Lord that others didn't.

Don't take me wrong, I'm not talking about special revelation and such; but rather am speaking of simply enjoying the presence of the Lord more.  Too many are mechanical and miss the daily presence of the Lord.  Too many of us have not that excellent spirit about us.  Why?  Not because we aren't reading our Bibles and praying; but because we are not coming into His presence without ceasing with thanksgiving, praise, and singing.

Try it this week.  Make a point to stop three times a day to thank the Lord for something He has done for you and to praise His name and thank the Lord for loving you and tell Him "I Love you Lord." You will, as James puts it, draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to you.