Personal Worship Lesson 3
by Claudine Lehman
These past few weeks, I’ve tried to share a little of how God brought me to the realization of how desperately I needed JUST HIM. As He took away my personal drive and ambition, the things that had been my motivation and stripped me of the ability to appreciate or find satisfaction in family and ministry, I slowly learned “He is all I need.”
This took a long, long time . . . too long. I wish I could share with you a process or a magic formula that would be quicker and less painful. But I’ve come to believe the struggle is part of God’s plan. Like a chick coming out of an egg. If we were to help it, it would not develop the muscles it would need in order to live.
Our struggle is like a spiritual exercise plan—a work-out—tailored to our individual needs and bents.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 tells us to
“Consider what God has done: (think about your life and all that God has done.) Who can straighten what He has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.”
This is not fatalism. It is a reminder of who God is. Man cannot change what God determines. God keeps us off balance, so we will trust Him and not our own resources.
Psalm 40 has become very important to me . . . both then and now. Remember how it begins?
“I waited and waited for the Lord, then He bent over to me and heard my cry. He brought me up from the destructive pit, form the miry clay, and set my feet on a rock, STEADYING my steps.”
That’s a promise for believers—a promise for me! The key is in the waiting.
So instead of a magic formula, I’ll continue to share some of the ways I’m learning to put God first.
When I first began this journey, the question I asked most often was “Who are you Lord?” This area was my weakest. I knew something about God, but I was not very intimate with Him–much like we know things about celebrities, but few of us really know them.
For me, getting to know Him meant going hard after learning His character and attributes. I wanted to know how He thinks, how He plans and moves, what is pleasing to Him and what hurts and disappoints His great heart of love. I could not worship someone I did not know intimately . . . and neither can you.
The great thing is God wants to be known. He is knowable!
Hosea 5 & 6 are powerful scriptures that demonstrate the heart of God. Here are a few excerpts:
Hosea 5:1 “I (God) will go and return to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. When trouble comes, they will earnestly seek me, and their cry will be . . .
6:1-3 “Come, let us (we are talking about you and me here) return to the Lord; for He hath torn, and He may heal us; He has smitten, and He may bind us up. In two days He will revive us and the third day He will raise us up that we may once more live before Him. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; for as certain as the break of dawn He comes to us; He will come to us like winter rain, as the spring showers that water the earth.”
And then God speaks in v. 6 “For I desire lovingkindness and not sacrifice (the going, being, doing, having) and the knowledge of God more than burnt offering.”
God looks for lovingkindness and knowledge of Him more than all the stuff we do or don’t do. God can have no competition in our hearts. Matthew 6:33 reminds us “But you, seek first (set your heart on) His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” All the “things” that really count and matter are given to us when we seek Him first. All the dross is burned off.
If God is not front and center in my life, then I’m torn and divided. My life is scattered, fragmented—not focused. God promises in Exodus 33:14: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” When God’s presence is with us, He puts us at ease.
Here’s a good test, a check point to see how you are doing. Are you frustrated? Are you ill at ease? Lacking peace? Then you are not focused on Him. The awareness of God’s presence is missing from the “dailies” of your life.
In those early days of my struggle, I knew very little about God’s presence in the daily routine of my life. By then we had moved to Lincoln and had five children ages 2 to 11. We were living on little to no money in a new city with new schools trying to start a church. When did I have time to think about God once my routine “quiet time” was over? My Bible was closed for the day. If I had taken the time to think about it, I might have been aware of Him. But I didn’t. I just didn’t.
God was not a conscious part of my life. There is a vast difference between sending up little cries of help (help, I need a parking place; help, I’ve lost my keys; help, my friend is hurting) and being aware of the presence and character of God.
In John 15: 7-8 we see a picture of our hearts settling in with God—abiding, nestling there, remaining in Him. That is what I wanted to do—be on such intimate terms with God that my heart would go to Him, settle in, abide and nestle in Him all day and night.
So I set my heart toward truly making God the #1 focus in my life. I had to overdo this at first . . . to be unbalanced for a while to make it real. I had to get out of the rut I was in and make a new rut.
We will talk about 4 specific ways to do this next week, but until then, I’d like you to meditate on this quote written by Brother Lawrence over 300 years ago:
“The soul’s eyes must be kept on God, particularly when something is being done in the outside world. Since much time and effort are needed to perfect this practice, one should not be discouraged by failure. Although the habit is difficult to form, it is a source of divine pleasure once it is learned.” The Practice of the Presence of God, p. 69
Have you ever thought about keeping God’s presence front and center during the “dailies” of your life? What does that look like?
Go back and read the entire passages in Hosea 5 & 6 and John 15: 1-17. Journal what these sections tell you about the heart of God for relationship.