Eyes Only for Christ
The greatest trap that Satan sets for every hungry Christian is to fill them with love for religion instead of love for Jesus Christ. At many intervals of my life, I have found myself literally filled with enthusiasm for the Lord’s work, His Kingdom, souls that needed mercy, and every good work; but suddenly feeling empty inside. His wonderful mercy has on each occasion gripped my heart to refocus my attention on Him, the Lover of my soul. The greatest moments of our success in laboring for the Lord are the most perilous times. The flesh is so quick to rejoice in victories, and to enjoy the process more than our relationship with the Master.
I shall never forget a story I heard many years ago. The source I do not remember. A father and his daughter were very close and each afternoon would go for a walk together. Suddenly the daughter was preoccupied and would beg to be excused from the walks with her dad. After weeks of excuses the father was grief-stricken. His birthday arrived, and he invited the daughter for an afternoon together. She joyously accepted and met her father at the appointed place. In her hand was the most beautiful sweater, hand woven and intricately designed by her masterful patience. "Dad", she said. " I have woven for you this special gift over many weeks because of my love for you. Then he suddenly knew and wept with joy. But his response was two-fold. "My daughter, your gift overwhelms my heart but please, please, never withdraw your presence from me again to make for me a gift. Your presence to me is far more wonderful than the greatest thing you could ever create." What a story about our labor versus our time with Him.
Oh the joy of just coming into the garden of love and worship to think of nothing but Him. To reach out in faith and attention to His triumph on the cross and His victory from the tomb and just to share that victory because we are redeemed. He is forever our Savior and Lord, and to Him we owe all our praise and obedience. It is a relationship not just an experience. Sure it is an experience, but religious people have experiences. Our experience must move to a relationship that we covet and build until we talk together one on one. If I could name one place where I have failed in the most over fifty-two years as His servant, it would be this alone. All other weaknesses have resulted from this failure.
Jesus said as quoted by John the Beloved, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:4-6) This disciple is the only one to quote these words of the Master because he knew the meaning best. His leaning on Jesus’ breast had opened his heart to the glory of his relationship over his experience. The greatest faith is never learned in the head but in the heart.
The perfect heart is not just a heart free from sin; it is a heart free from self and attached in unfailing love to Him. This is greatness of surrender that exalts the heart to be so overwhelmed with Him that we can worship without a song. We must all confess that worship is usually the result of great songs, powerful sermons, and wonderful fellowship with His saints; but, He wants us to learn to worship just because we are His and He is ours. Then worship can move beyond a sanctuary to become a lifestyle. We will not want to miss His House of Worship once we learn the worship that consumes our greatest moments of every day.
He said, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." (John 15:7-9) Remember fruit is different from works. Works are our religious responsibilities, but fruit is the nature of the vine extended in the branches. Never allow the works to consume you until the vine cannot provide this nurture and nourishment of Himself. Clinging to Him (abiding in Him) is the Believers’ greatest joy.