THE SECRET PLACE
Abiding under the shadow of the almighty
THE BEAUTY OF HOLY INTIMACY
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power; His understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147: 3-5)
One of the most intriguing thoughts is realizing that God knows exactly what we are thinking. There is always a motive behind every deed and even though we may go through the motions with some of the things we say and do – God knows our intentions. I am confident we will agree that life is all about love. It begins with the love from God that gives us the opportunity to live and we are nurtured with the love from our family that supports and encourages us as we grow. We receive the love of Christ in salvation and for many, love is expressed through the bond of marriage and to complete the circle of charity as Christians we abide in the awareness of releasing God’s love through our heart to the world. There are varying degrees of receiving and giving of love and likewise there are reasons why. God understands circumstances that are beyond our control pertaining to our childhood. He realizes that our past has a direct influence on how we are and in His justice and compassion He can extend as much grace as is needed to help us. We are not to use our disappointments and scars as an excuse – but rather we can give our heart to Him and allow Him to “rebuild” our mind, emotions and conscience into a brand new creation. Do not feel condemned for being wounded but trust that He can transform your stumbling blocks into stepping stones. There is an awesome beauty of intimacy associated with forgiving others. Purging us from resentment will deliver us and bring peace of mind, fullness of love and the spiritual freedom that comes from the joy of His truth. He is the one who made you, who knows you and the only one that has the power to transform your soul.
Let us talk about intimacy and allow Him to reveal the depths of where we are in our relationship with Him. Going to church has its place as a public gathering of believers, but it NOT the same thing as walking in spiritual intimacy with God. There is a huge difference between our public praise for God and our private time alone with Him. The corporate assembly is the collection of many thoughts, attitudes, agendas and opinions – all gathered under one roof to listen to a message from God. Hopefully there is an opportunity for prayer and worship but under the parameters of time, the services usually follow a program. This is one reason why the closet of prayer is mentioned in God’s Word, as we can spend as much time as we desire with God without disruption. It is the beauty of the “secret place” where we express our thoughts freely and choose not to worry about anything other than being in His presence. Allow me to say at this point something that hurts my soul deeply but needs to be said. Our actions reveal the truth about our love for His presence and exposes our lack of desire to be with Him. Selah. Brother, I cannot believe you would say that! It is offensive for you to state that Christians do not have a passion to spend time with God. As I hear from The Lord, it is Christ that relates His message to me. It is He that knows the hearts of people and it is He that experiences the hurt and rejection from being ignored and forgotten.
Do you ever think about going to heaven? What do you dream about? I have heard many messages about the streets of gold and how we will not have any worries or pain for all eternity. These are definitely encouraging thoughts but how often do you hear people talk about how they long to be in His presence so they can worship Him constantly? Do you know why this is? Because it is not really their priority now! Are we thankful to go to heaven to worship God – or to enjoy eternal life by avoiding hell? I know that is a sobering question but if we are so excited and in love with Him, why don’t we desire to spend more time with Him now? The reason why living with God is not thought about concerning heaven is because walking with Him is not our highest priority now. I have led worship in the churches for years and at times have been frustrated at the lack of enthusiasm and participation. I have often wondered if the church setting of corporate worship was the only time that members praised the Lord. The same could be said of prayers being said or Bibles being opened. If people are not interested in spending quality time with God now – why would we presume they would be excited to do the same thing in heaven? Do you believe people will complain about the style of music or the volume of the instruments in heaven? Do you believe people will become restless, bored, complaining, criticizing and disagreeing with the sermons? Do you think in heaven there will be jealousy, backbiting, politics, gossip, pride, competition, envy and all the other bad attitudes found in today’s church? Now is the time for us to honestly and thoroughly examine our heart concerning motives and intentions, our dreams, visions, thoughts and the reasons for our hope.
The act of being grateful is directly connected to our appreciation for that person. Actually, the lost who are not members of God’s household can produce the expression of being grateful. Our spiritual act of worship is a manifestation of our heart that cries to God in thankfulness. By the way, casually saying, “Thank God!” is alright but it is not necessarily spending quality time in intimacy with Him. We cannot deceive Him and should never assume that life is some sort of a cosmic game. In fact, it makes a mockery of who He is and what He is trying to do in this world. He desires to be “intertwined” with our heart and spirit and for us to be aware of Him every minute. He wants us to live under the shadow of His wings and be focused and sensitive to His voice all the time. Have I arrived at this awesome place with my relationship with Him? Sadly, I confess that I have not. This truth burns within me although I have not been able to maintain this level of spirituality for long periods of time. Can we grow and develop into this way of life? I believe there is nothing impossible with God’s power. We can have as much of Him as we desire. The question is; how much of Him do we really want?
Paul speaks of a ministry that every Christian is called to, one that does not require particular gifts or talents. It is to be undertaken by all who have been born again and in fact, this “ministry” is every believer’s first calling and all other endeavors must flow out of it. No service can be pleasing to God unless it is birthed out of this spiritual foundation. I am talking about the ministry of beholding the face of Christ. Paul says, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). What does it mean to behold the Lord’s glory? Paul is speaking of devoted, intimate, focused worship. It is sacrificed time that is given to God simply to behold Him. And the apostle quickly adds, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry” (4:1). Paul makes it clear that beholding the face of Christ is a ministry we ALL must devote ourselves to. The Greek word for beholding in this verse is a very strong expression. It indicates not just taking a look, but “fixing the gaze.” It means deciding, “I won’t move from this position”. Before I do anything else, before I try to accomplish a single thing, I must be in God’s presence. Many Christians misinterpret the phrase “beholding as in a glass”, by thinking of a mirror, with their image being reflected back to them. But that is NOT Paul’s meaning here. He is speaking of an intensely focused gaze, as if peering at something beyond the natural – into the supernatural. We are to “fix our eyes” this way, determined to see God’s glory in the face of Christ. We are to shut ourselves in the Holy of Holies, with but one obsession: to gaze so intently, and to commune with such devotion, that we are changed into what He has designed for us to be. Paul says the person who is shut in with Christ, beholding Him, is being transfigured and transformed from what they used to be into a more pure vessel of honor. What happens as a believer beholds the face of Christ? Paul writes, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”. But who will take the time to spend quiet moments with God like this? People go to church and I am not saying this is bad; however it should not satisfy our deep need for concentrated spiritual intimacy. Remember there is a hypocritical religious attitude that is an imposter to the genuine love relationship to God. It is humility and Godly sorrow that breaks our heart and keeps us sensitive to His voice – not religious activity. Holy purity comes from consistent repentance and is the only admission into His presence. Religion is filled with pride and follows the emotional leading of the carnal conscience. Religion avoids spiritual intimacy because it realizes the pain of dealing with sin and the need to change.
Are you filled with joy today? As you have been reading this, have you been excited about God and what He is doing in your life? Are you encouraged today and enthused about His Holy Spirit and what He has called you to do? Or are you sad and just feel like no one cares about you? Do you feel that everything is hopeless and that all is lost to the devil and his kingdom of darkness? Allow me to speak to you directly for just a minute. You are NOT reading this out of a random coincidence or chance. You are here this moment as a divine appointment. As we have a choice each day to put on our earthly garments – we also choose which spiritual garments we are going to wear. There is a garment of “heaviness” that is associated with depression and is void of hope, appreciation, love and faith. The other garment is PRAISE and that attitude contains our awareness and gratefulness of God’s presence and is FILLED with the beauty of holy intimacy. Decide right now which garment you will wear today – and determine who is in control your life – Jesus or your flesh! How do you do this? Repent right now for your attitude and ask Jesus to forgive you. Tell Him how much you love Him and how you want Him to wrap His arms around you. He will exchange your tears for His joy. Amen.