Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Date: 28 April 2013

For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

Hearing God 02 – Minute by Minute

 

One day, Jesus asked his disciples – Matthew 16:13: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” / “Who am I according to the people?” They replied – Matthew 16:14: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

(By then), Jesus had clearly impacted the masses. They had been pondering the healings – the miracles – the authority over demons – so that they came to some strange conclusions. According to them – Jesus was the reincarnation of a person that had already lived – a mighty man of God – such as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.

Reincarnation – this was a new thought – inspired by Jesus’ work – but it was wrong and remained stuck in an old paradigm – (an old model of interpretation). Jesus was more than a prophet. He was a king even though – at the time – he was mainly preaching and not governing anything. [Only later, whole nations would become Christian.]

Then, Jesus turned to his disciples:

 

Matthew 16:15-20: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

 

Peter gave the right answer. Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus was a King – (the word Messiah means the Anointed One with the Holy Spirit and refers to royalty) – and his relationship with God was that of a Son to his Father.

Jesus was rejoicing over his answer and he explained that the insight was given to him by God – not himself. Jesus made much of Peter hearing from God and – right then and there – gave him a new name or gave his old name new meaning: Peter (Greek: petros) – the rock (Greek: petra) – Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church ...”

Peter had heard from God and this had elevated him to a new place of authority – the rock of the church. Have you ever heard correctly from God? How did this make you feel? Peter became confident butat once – within the same church season – not only failed to hear from God but heard from Satan and believed his voice – (Satan’s voice) – to be God’s:

 

Matthew 16:21-28:  From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

 

What a turnaround! How deep can you fall? Peter, who had heard from God (like no one else), was now Satan himself – a stumbling block to Jesus – a stumbling block instead of the rock on which the church would be built. Why? Because he was looking at the predicted suffering of Jesus from a human perspective under the influence of Satan who is always a deceiver:

 

Revelation 12:9: So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

 

John 8:44: You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

 

1 John 4:1: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

 

2 Corinthians 11:2-4:  I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

 

2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

 

Can this happen to you? One minuteyou are the person who has heard from God and is guiding the church (the rock of Living Grace) – the next (minute) – you are the stumbling block – deceived by Satan but adamant that you are the one that knows the voice of God and have only listened to him. How could Peter get it so wrong?

This calls for absolute caution on our part. Hearing from God is not easy – needs constant vigilance and discernment. Thoughts and ideas may rise up within us but their source is not always God but our own sinful desires, preconceptions and even demonic deception. It would help us if our minds were smart enough to work out God and his ways. We could then – exercising our brains – foolproof communication with God. Only – (according to the Bible) – this is not possible:

 

Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

 

1 Corinthians 1:18-19: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

 

1 Corinthians 2:6-16: We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 3:18-21: Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting ...

 

Peter’s mistake was – in a word: pride – a puffed up notion of himself – which led to disobedience. He did not lie or steal or murder anyone but – (consider the arrogance) – he stopped listening to Jesus and stopped being submitted to him. God had told him who Jesus was – the Messiah, the Son of the living God – and – being rather full of himself – he was now confident that he had worked this out – the plan of salvation and Jesus’ destiny. Therefore – when Jesus began talking about suffering many things and being killed and rising again to life – Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

This was absurd. Peter had declared that Jesus was the Messiah – publicly – Jesus was the Son of the living God – but then had the gumption – the misplaced courage – to reprimand him – dress him down.

We better be careful about what we think we know. In the past, we had people who were certain about the calling of this church – they had heard from God – it was about a greater outpouring of His glory and ministering to others – but, on the day that the preaching on God’s glory was followed by the miracle of gold dust, they dismissed what God was doing. Then, who could have predicted that God was leading our church into the tent ministry – the Jesus Tent of the Supernatural in the public square of our city (and others in the future)?

Peter had Jesus’ identity right – he had revelation – Jesus was the Messiah – but – like him – we better be careful about assuming too much beyond what we have heard. God cannot be worked out. You will not know his 5-year plan. He is the God thatdestroys the wisdom of the wiseso that no one may boast before him – so that all human pride is humbled.

Peter became a stumbling block to Jesus – Peter was called “Satan” by Jesus – when pride made him rebel against Jesus’ words which – on this later occasion – were plain and not thestill small voicethat he had heard earlier. Pride – rebellion – disobedience – are always the reason for getting the voice of God wrong. This is important: The hearing of God’s voice and understanding the truth are always dependent on our behaviour. Obedience fosters understanding while disobedience – persistent disobedience – always ends up in deception:

 

Romans 1:21-32: For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12: ... They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

 

John 1:9-11: Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

 

John 7:17: Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

 

Romans 12:1-2: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

[James 1:22: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

 

Luke 8:11-15: This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

 

See also James 4:4-10; 1 John 2:15-17; Ephesians 2:1-3; Ezekiel 14:3-10.]

 

Disobedience – persistent disobedience – always ends up in deception. [Consider words such as “God told me to stay away from the prayer meeting”.] This dynamic is so powerful that we are not only warned to be vigilant about ourselves but also the church. Persistent sin is contagious and always spreads the seeds of deception among others. (It also dishonours our Lord). For the sake of truth, a separation has to occur:

 

1 Corinthians 15:33: Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

 

1 Corinthians 5:4-13:  So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” [See also Galatians 5:7-9.]

 

Titus 3:10: Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with the

 

These have been serious words. Is there any encouragement for us? Yes, there is. Obedience fosters understanding and obedience is not that hard but joyful. There is a discovery waiting for you: God is good company.

The Bible advises us topray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and this permanent state of communing with God in humble conversation is life changing and amazingly wonderful.

We may learn from Frank Laubach:

 

Frank Charles Laubach (September 2, 1884 – June 11, 1970) was an Evangelical Christian missionary known as “The Apostle to the Illiterates”. In 1935, while working at a remote location in the Philippines, he developed the “Each One Teach One” literacy program. It has been used to teach about 60 million people to read in their own language. He was deeply concerned about poverty, injustice and illiteracy, and considered them barriers to peace in the world.

In 1955, he founded Laubach Literacy, which helped introduce about 150,000 Americans to reading each year and had grown to embrace 34 developing countries. An estimated 2.7 million people worldwide were learning to read through Laubach-affiliated programs.

During the latter years of his life, Laubach travelled all over the world speaking on the topics of literacy and world peace. He was author of a number of devotional writings and works on literacy.

Laubach is the only American missionary to be honoured on a US postage stamp, a 30¢ Great Americans series stamp in 1984.

Laubach had a deep interest in the Philippines. He wrote a biography of the Filipino national hero, Jose Rizal: Man and Martyr, published in Manila in 1936. He also translated the hero’s valedictory poem, “Mi Ultimo Adios” (My Last Farewell.) His version is ranked second in ideas, content, rhyme and style among the 35 English translations in a collection.

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, pxiii-xiv: ... one of the most widely known and best loved men of the twentieth century ... He was one of the most travelled Christians of all ages ... He wrote over fifty books, several of them best sellers that had a world-wide influence. He was perhaps the greatest single educator of modern times ...

 

A certain sense of loneliness and failure made Frank Laubach search for more in God:

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p9-10: This week a new and to me marvellous experience has come out of my loneliness. I have been so desperately lonesome that it was unbearable save by talking with God. And so every, waking moment of the week I have been looking toward Him, with perhaps the exception of an hour or two.

Last Thursday night I was listening to a phonograph in Lumbatan and allowing my heart to commune, when something broke within me, and I longed to lift my own will up and give it completely to God.

How infinitely richer this direct first hand grasping of God himself is, than the old method which I used and recommended for years, the reading of endless devotional books. Almost it seems to me now that the very Bible cannot be read as a substitute for meeting God soul to soul and face to face. And yet, how was this new closeness achieved? Ah, I know now that it was by cutting the very heart of my heart and by suffering. Somebody was telling me this week that nobody can make a violin speak the last depths of human longing until that soul has been made tender by some great anguish. I do not say it is the only way to the heart of God, but I must witness that it has opened an inner shrine for me which I never entered before.

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p19: I shall be forty-six in two weeks. I no longer have the sense that life is all before me, as I had a few years ago. Some of it is behind – and a miserable poor past it is, so far below what I had dreamed that l dare not even think of it. Nor dare I think much of the future. This present, if it is full of God, is the only refuge I have from poisonous disappointment and even almost rebellion against God.

 

Dissatisfaction leads to an experiment:

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p2-3: Although I have been a minister and a missionary for fifteen years, I have not lived the entire day of every day in minute by minute effort to follow the will of God. Two years ago a profound dissatisfaction led me to begin trying to line up my actions with the will of God about every fifteen minutes or every half hour. Other people to whom I confessed this intention said it was impossible. I judge from what I have heard that few people are really trying even that. But this year I have started out trying to live all my waking

moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?”

It is clear that this is exactly what Jesus was doing all day every day. But it is not what His followers have been doing in very large numbers ...

For the past few days I have been experimenting in a more complete surrender than ever before. I am taking by deliberate act of will, enough time from each hour to give God much thought. Yesterday and today I have made a new adventure, which is not easy to express. I am feeling God in each movement, by an act of will – willing that He shall direct these fingers that now strike this typewriter – willing that He shall pour through my steps as I walk – willing that He shall direct my words as I speak, and my very jaws as I eat!

You will object to this intense introspection. Do not try it, unless you feel dissatisfied with your own relationship with God, but at least allow me to realize all the leadership of God I can. Paul speaks of our liberty in Christ. I am trying to be utterly free from everybody, free from my own self, but completely enslaved to the will of God every moment of this day.

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p31-35: Select a favourable hour; try how many minutes of the hour you can remember God at least once each minute; that is to say, bring God to mind at least one second out of every sixty. You will not do so well at first, but keep trying, for it constantly becomes easier, and after a while it is almost automatic. When you begin to try this you discover that spiritually you are still a very weak infant. A babe in the crib seizes upon everything at hand to pull himself to his feet, wobbles for a few seconds and falls exhausted. Then he tries again, each time standing a little longer than before.

Suppose you have enjoyed a good time in the presence of the Lord, and then you find yourself with a group of friends engaged in ordinary conversation. Can you recall the Lord at least once every minute? This is hard, but there are some helps. Keep humming to yourself (inaudibly) a favourite hymn – For example, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord, Have Thine Own Way.” Keep whispering inside, “Lord, You are my life,” or “You are my thought.”

Here are a few aids which have proven helpful: When at the table remember Jesus’ words, “Eat this in remembrance of Me.” This can be applied to ordinary meals so that every mouthful is His “body broken for you.”

When reading, keep a running conversation with Him about the pages you are reading.

If you lean back to think about some problem, how can you remember the Lord? By forming a new habit. All thought employs silent words and is really conversation with your inner self. Instead of talking to yourself, form the habit of talking to Christ. Some of us who have done this find it so much better that we never want the other way again. No practice we have ever found has held the mind as much as this: making all thought a conversation with the Lord. When evil thoughts of any kind come, say, “Lord, these thoughts are not fit to discuss with you. Lord, you do the thinking. Renew my mind by your presence.”

When you are strolling out of doors alone, you can recall the Lord at least once every minute with no effort. If you wander to a place where you can talk aloud without being overheard, you may speak to the invisible Companion inside you ...

Make sure that your last thoughts are of Christ as you are falling asleep at night. Continue to whisper any words of endearment your heart suggests ...

Men have found they can keep the Lord in mind while engaged in all types of work, mental or manual, and find that they are happier and get better results ...

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p26-27: When one has struck some wonderful blessing that all mankind has a right to know about, no custom or false modesty should prevent him from telling it, even though it may mean the unbarring of his soul to the public gaze.

I have found such a way of life. I ask nobody else to live it, or even to try it. I only witness that it is wonderful, it is indeed heaven on earth. And it is very simple, so simple that any child could practice it: Just to pray inwardly for everybody one meets, and to keep on all day without stopping, even when doing other work of every kind.

This simple practice requires only a gentle pressure of the will, not more than a person can exert easily. It grows easier as the habit becomes fixed

Yet it transforms life into heaven. Everybody takes on a new richness, and all the world seems tinted with glory. I do not of course know what others think of me, but the joy which I have within cannot be described. If there never were any other reward than that, it would more than justify the practice to me.

There are three questions which we may ask, “Do you believe in God?” That is not getting very far. “The devils believe and tremble.” Second, “Are you acquainted with God?” We are acquainted with people with whom we have had some business dealings. Third, “Is God your friend?” or putting this another way, “Do you love God?”

It is this third stage that is really vital. How is it to be achieved? Precisely as any friendship is achieved. By doing things together. The depth and intensity of the friendship will depend upon variety and extent of the things we do and enjoy together. Will the friendship be constant? That again depends upon the permanence of our common interests, and upon whether or not our interests grow into ever widening circles, so that we do not stagnate. The highest friendship demands growth. “It must be progressive as life itself is progressive.” Friends must walk together; they cannot long stand still together, for that means death to friendship and to life.

Friendship with God is the friendship of child with parent. As an ideal son grows daily into closer relationship with his father, so we may grow into closer love with God by widening into his interests, and thinking his thoughts and sharing his enterprises.

 

Good outcomes are observed:

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p5-7: I feel simply carried along each hour, doing my part in a plan which is far beyond myself. This sense of cooperation with God in little things is what so astonishes me, for I never have felt it this way before. I need something, and turn round to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me. God takes care of all the rest. My part is to live this hour in continuous inner conversation with God and in perfect responsiveness to his will. This seems to be all I need think about.

The sense of being led by an unseen hand which takes mine while another hand reaches ahead and prepares the way, grows upon me daily. I do not need to strain at all to find opportunity. It plies in upon me as the waves roll over the beach, and yet there is time to do something about each opportunity.

Perhaps a man who has been an ordained minister since 1914 ought to be ashamed to confess that he never before felt the joy of complete, hourly, minute by minute – now what shall I call it? – more than surrender. I had that before. More than listening to God. I tried that before. I cannot find the word that will mean to you or to me what I am now experiencing. It is a will act. I compel my mind to open straight out toward God. I wait and listen with determined sensitiveness. I fix my attention there, and sometimes it requires a long time early in the morning. I determine not to get out of bed until that mind set upon the Lord is settled. After awhile, perhaps, it will become a habit, and the sense of effort will grow less ...

And I must witness that people outside are treating me differently. Obstacles which I once would have regarded as insurmountable are melting away like a mirage. People are becoming friendly who suspected or neglected me. I feel, I feel like one who has had his violin out of tune with the orchestra and at last is in harmony with the music of the universe.

As for me, I never lived, I was half dead, I was a rotting tree, until I reached the place where I wholly, with utter honesty, resolved and then re-resolved that I would find God’s will, and I would do that will though every fibre in me said no, and I would win the battle in my thoughts. It was as though some deep artesian well had been struck in my soul or souls and strength came forth. I do not claim success even for a day yet, in my mind, not complete success all day but some days are close to success, and every day is tingling with the joy of a glorious discovery. That thing is eternal. That thing is undefeatable. You and I shall soon blow away from our bodies. Money, praise, poverty, opposition, these make no difference, for they will all alike be forgotten in a thousand years, but this spirit which comes to a mind set upon continuous surrender, this spirit is timeless life.

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p13: I have tasted a thrill in fellowship with God which has made anything discordant with God disgusting. This afternoon the possession of God has caught me up with such sheer joy that I thought I never had known anything like it. God was so close and so amazingly lovely that I felt like melting all over with a strange blissful contentment. Having had this experience, which comes to me now several times a week, the thrill of filth repels me, for I know its power to drag me from God. And after an hour of close friendship with God my soul feels clean, as new fallen snow.

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p15-16: As I analyze myself I find several things happening to me as a result of these two months of strenuous effort to keep God in mind every minute. This concentration upon God is strenuous, but everything else has ceased to be so. I think more clearly, I forget less frequently. Things which I did with a strain before, I now do easily and with no effort whatever. I worry about nothing, and lose no sleep. I walk on air a good part of the time. Even the mirror reveals a new light in my eyes and face. I no longer feel in a hurry about anything. Everything goes right. Each minute I meet calmly as though it were not important. Nothing can go wrong excepting one thing. That is that God may slip from my mind if I do not keep on my guard. If He is there, the universe is with me. My task is simple and clear.

 

He paid a price:

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p31-35: The first price is pressure of our wills, gentle but constant. But what prize is ever won without effort?

The second prize is perseverance. Poor results at the outset are not the slightest reason for discouragement; everybody has this experience for a long while. Each week grows better and requires less strain.

The third price is perfect surrender. We lose Christ’s presence the moment our wills rebel. If we try to keep even a remote corner of life for self or evil, and refuse to let the Lord rule us wholly, that small worm will spoil the entire fruit. We must be utterly sincere.

The fourth price is to be often in a group. We need the stimulus of believers who pursue what we pursue, the presence of Christ.

 

The Christian faith is not dull but God thrills us with joy and love:

 

Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach: Practicing His Presence, Sargent: The Seed Sowers 1973, p36: The notion that religion is dull, stupid and sleepy is abhorrent to God, for He has created infinite variety and He loves to surprise us. If you are weary of some sleepy form of devotion, probably God is as weary of it as you are ...

Humble folk often believe that walking with God is above their heads, or that they may “lose a good time” if they share all their joys with Christ. What tragic misunderstanding to regard Him as a killer happiness! A chorus of joyous voices round the world fairly sing that spending their hours with the Lord is the most thrilling joy ever known, and that beside it a ball game or a horse race is stupid ...

 

Do you want to hear from God? Then, try this experiment yourself: Minute by minute, make an effort to do his will and listen to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done?” You will be surprised like Peter, who was the only one that identified Jesus as the Messiah (the Son of the living God). God will come so close to you. He will share his heart with you, love and joy – minute by minute. Amen.