If Satan cannot distract you with worldliness, He will overwhelm you with weariness. Indeed, how easy it is to wear ourselves out; even good works done without recharging ourselves in God can drain us of life and energy. Daniel speaks of a time at the end of the age when the enemy will attempt to "wear down the saints of the Highest One" (Dan. 7:25). God never intended for us to do His will without His presence. The power to accomplish God's purpose comes from prayer and intimacy with Christ. It is here, closed in with God, where we find an ever-replenishing flow of spiritual virtue.
Weary in Well-Doing
In the early 1970s, during the beginning of my ministry, the Lord called me to consecrate to Him the time from dawn until noon. I spent these hours in prayer, worship, and the study of His Word. I would often worship God for hours, writing songs to Him that came from this wonderful sanctuary of love. The presence of the Lord was my delight, and I know my time with Him was not only well spent but also well pleasing to us both.
Is your love growing softer, brighter and more visible? Or is it becoming more discriminating, more calculating, less vulnerable and less available? This is a very important issue, for your Christianity is only as real as your love. A measurable decrease in your ability to love is evidence that a stronghold of cold love is developing within you.
Jesus warned of our era. He said, "Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold" (Matt. 24:10-12). So, let us honestly ask the Lord to examine us: Is our love hot or cold? Another's thoughtlessness may have wounded us deeply, but instead of forgiving the wound or going to them and discussing it according to Matthew 18, we go to others with our complaint. The wound then begins to germinate into a root of bitterness, and many are being defiled (Heb. 12:15). What is growing in us is not love but bitterness, which is unfulfilled revenge.
Here's the scene: You are in a battle against sickness, oppression or some similar struggle. You seek God, and in some way the grace of God touches your life. Your victory may have come through a word or prayer or some other encouragement, but you absolutely know the Lord has delivered you. Using the five smooth stones of divine grace, you defeated your Goliath.
But then, a few weeks or months or perhaps years later, all the old symptoms suddenly return with a vengeance. If you were struggling with an illness, it manifests worse than ever; if your battle was regarding a relationship or a particular sin, it seems as though all progress has been lost. You are back to square one.
Finding Our Beloved
Though the Sacred Writ tells us we are one with Christ, the sense of distance between Jesus Christ and ourselves persists. You may have prayed, Lord, You said You are with us forever but I feel isolated from You.
So, the question must not be ignored: If Christ is within us, how can we find the living flame of His presence? In the Song of Solomon, this quest to find the secret place of His presence is given wonderful expression. The bride says, "Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills! My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag" (Song of Sol. 2:8-9).
The sense of distance we often feel between Christ and ourselves is an illusion. As we enter the days prior to Christ's Second Coming, the Lord shall begin to remove that falsehood. Indeed, He promises, "In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you" (John 14:20).
The Scriptures tell us that Christ is the vine, we are the branches; He is the head, we are His body; He is the Lord and we are His temple. From start to finish, the Bible declares the Lord not only has a dwelling in Heaven, but that He also abides perpetually in redemptive union with His people. The ever-present focus of His activity is to guide us into oneness with Himself.
We all know the unrepentant world is destined for the Great Tribulation, but as far as the living, praying church is concerned, if we continue to climb toward the standard of Christlikeness, prior to the rapture there will be a season of great glory for true Christians.
In support of this holy goal, let me submit to you an encounter I had with the Lord in 1973. I was pastoring a small church in Hawaii and had been in a month of intense prayer and extended fasting, a time of drawing near to God. At the end of this period, I found myself awakened during the night by a visitation of the Lord. It was not as though I saw His physical features; I saw His glory and was overwhelmed by the intense fire of His presence. Immediately I was like a dead man, unable to move so much as a finger. Spiritually, however, my consciousness was heightened beyond anything I have known since. I was like one of those "living creatures" in the book of Revelation with "eyes around and within" (Rev. 4:8).
The Great Revolt
As though Jesus were reading a news summary of recent years, His prophecies of two thousand years ago clearly describe our times. Thus, we are compelled to discern accurately the significant era in which we live. Indeed, of the many prophetic fulfillments of our day, one in particular rises with undimmed candor. I am speaking of what the Bible calls the "apostasy." Recall Paul's warning:
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first" (2 Thess. 2:3).
There are so many things to occupy our minds: so many books, so many examples, so many good teachings that deserve our attention, that say, "Here is a truth." But as I have been serving the Lord these past years, He has led me to seek for two things and two things only: to know the heart of God in Christ and to know my own heart in Christ's light.
Knowing the Heart of God
I have been seeking God, searching to know Him and the depth of His love toward His people. I want to know Christ's heart and the compassions that motivate Him. The Scriptures are plain: Jesus loved people. Mark's gospel tells us that after Jesus taught and healed the multitudes, they became hungry. In His compassion, Christ saw them as "sheep without a shepherd" (Mark 6:34). It was not enough for Him to heal and teach them; He personally cared for each of them. Their physical well-being, even concerning food, was important to Him.
No one can tell me that fathers and daughters can't have close relationships, or even become best friends. People are almost envious of the love my dad and I share. The only time we argue is about who loves who the most. But our relationship was not always this warm. There was a time when I felt I had lost my ability to love my father. I was a teenage Christian in a public high school. My Christian background made me different. I was new, craving acceptance. My father's rules seemed to be the source of my rejections.
Fueled by my insecurities, in my eyes my dad became the root of my problems. While I set an adequate standard and struggled to live by it, he was strict. I was angry because he refused to back down from the standard he knew was right. He refused to appeal to my ignorance in order to keep my acceptance.
By Francis Frangipane
desire to be acknowledged and appreciated by others is basic to human
nature. After healing ten lepers, Jesus Himself seemed disappointed when
only one returned to give thanks (see Luke 17). Yet, while the need to
be occasionally appreciated is not sin, it can become sin when our goal
shifts from seeking God's glory to seeking the praise of men. We must
determine that our service to mankind is guided by a higher, more
focused obedience to God.
Jesus lived solely for the glory of God. We, however, too often seek the praise of man. In spite of the fact that Jesus repeatedly affirmed that the Father who sees in secret will reward us openly (see Matt. 6), we remain offended if we do not receive credit for our good deeds. This quest for recognition can become a source of wrong motives and failed expectations; it can give a place to jealousy, pride and selfish ambition if we are not careful.