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How to Worship Jesus Christ
Experiencing His Manifest Presence Daily
By Joseph S. Carroll, Jim Vincent
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2013 Estate of Joseph S. Carroll
All rights reserved.
One Thing Needful
Worshipping God is the great essential of fitness. If you have not been worshipping ..., when you get into work you will not only be useless yourself, but a tremendous hindrance to those who are associated with you.—OSWALD CHAMBERS
In the evangelical missionary world, there is no name more revered than that of Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor, a remarkable man, was the father of modern faith missions. The two volumes of his life by his daughter-in-law are possibly the two greatest works on missionary activity ever written: The Growth of a Soul and The Growth of a Work of God. What was it that made Hudson Taylor the man he became and was, right to the end?
His son and daughter-in-law, who traveled constantly with him in his later years, testify that often they would be traveling over a hard cobblestone road for many hours in a springless cart. Arriving at a Chinese inn late at night, they would endeavor to obtain a little corner in a room for their father, Hudson Taylor; for usually in those inns there was just one large room where everybody slept. He was now an aged man; but, without fail, every morning just before dawn there would be the scratching of a match and the lighting of a candle, and Hudson Taylor would worship God. This was the key to his life. It was said that even before the sun rose on China, Hudson Taylor was worshiping God.
Lessons from Taylor and Tozer
What did this great man write concerning missions? Did this master missionary, who understood indigenous principles, give us a great volume on the "how" of missions or on the "how" of planting churches? No, he did not. He gave us a very small book, a commentary on the Song of Solomon!
What was the key to Hudson Taylor's life? He loved his Lord, and he cultivated that love. After all, it is the first commandment. Love can only be cultivated adequately in aloneness with the one you love, and this Hudson Taylor guarded.
I have had the privilege of listening to most of the men who would be considered the great preachers in the world today. One, who is now with the Lord, was A. W. Tozer. Dr. Tozer, who labored in Chicago for many years, was different, for he spoke with a freshness and with a penetration that was most rare.
When an acquaintance of mine, who was called to minister in Chicago, arrived in that city, A. W. Tozer called him and said, "This city is a devil's den. It is a very difficult place to minister the Word of God, and you will come up against much opposition from the enemy. If you ever want to pray with me, I'm at the lakeside every morning at five-thirty, lust make your way down and we can pray together."
Not wanting to bother the great man as he was seeking the Lord, my acquaintance did not immediately accept his offer. But one day he was so troubled that he made his way very early to the lakeside, about six o'clock, only to find God's servant prostrate upon the sand, worshiping God. Needless to say he did not disturb him.
A. W. Tozer worshiped God and was one of the few men who preached consistently on the need to be a worshiper of God, telling the church in no uncertain manner that worship was the missing jewel in her crown.
Other Lessons in Worship
I came across the necessity to worship, as the man in the world would say, "by accident"; but it was by God's appointment. In the early days of my ministry in Australia it was my habit when in the city of Sydney to meet with a number of brothers in Christ for a day of prayer. We would begin about eight o'clock in the morning; and because the afternoon was usually a time of tiredness, we would pray around in our circle. When it came my turn one afternoon, I was very tired and began to quote Psalm 19:1–3:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
Suddenly I was quickened by the Spirit of God and began to pour out my heart in prayer. I had not prayed like that all day. I had offered many prayers, but this was different. When I finished and the others were praying, I did a lot of thinking and waiting upon the Lord. What had I done? I had begun with these verses worshiping God from the Psalms; so the next time around I did the same thing, and the same thing happened. I was quickened by the Spirit of God, and there was that outpouring in intercession. I was borne along by the Spirit of God. I knew then that I had been introduced to a priceless key, one that would introduce me to hitherto undreamed-of heights of fellowship with my Lord.
The best time to worship is, of course, in the morning, in that time that we call a quiet time. But what is a quiet time to you? To me as a young Christian, in the early years, it was anything but a relaxed, meditative time. In fact, it was a time when I had to get through a certain study of the Word of God and certain prayers that I had to pray from my prayer list. Thus, my quiet time was not really a quiet time. It was a study time, a time for intercession, a time for petition.
Then I was introduced to a small volume on prayer by A. T. Pierson that led to an intensive study of the teaching of our Lord on prayer. If you collate all our Lord's words on prayer you will find that He taught ten lessons. At the Evangelical Institute where I teach our course on prayer, these ten lessons are the foundation of all else.
You will also discover that you cannot advance from one lesson to another until you master the preceding one. In other words, you cannot go to lesson two until you have mastered lesson one. You cannot go to lesson three until you have mastered lesson two.
Our Lord's first lesson on prayer is found in Matthew 6:6: "When you pray, go into your room ["closet" KJV], and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."
He is saying, "The first thing you must do is get somewhere alone with Me," for a closet is a closed place. A room can become a closet. It means aloneness. A forest can become a closet. The important thing is aloneness, in secrecy, being alone with your Father.
"And when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." Now, what would this mean to those to whom the Lord uttered these words? To the Jew, the place that was more enclosed than any other and that would immediately come to his mind was the "Holiest of All," that innermost court of the tabernacle and the temple where the high priest met alone with God once every year. It had no door, no skylight, no window. It was completely enclosed.
The high priest went into the closet and stood before God, and it is neither intimated nor suggested that he ever spoke a word. Prayer is a thing of the heart, expressed before uttered, for God looks on the heart. The high priest stood in the presence of God and communed with Him on the basis of a blood-sprinkled mercy seat, bringing back from that communion a message for the people. What is the first lesson to learn? It is aloneness, secrecy, communing with God on the basis of a blood-sprinkled mercy seat.
How do we commune with God? The writer to the Hebrews tells us that we commune with Him on the basis of a mercy seat, even Jesus Christ who is our Mercy Seat. He is the Lamb of God, our new and freshly slaughtered Way.
Martin Luther said, "It seems but yesterday that Jesus died," What made this great, fearless servant of God so dynamic, so effective? He was conscious that he walked and lived in the presence of the Lamb of God who had been slain for him, for he knew what it was to come by the blood of Jesus and to meditate upon the slain Lamb of God.
We enter into the holiest, into the very presence of God, by the blood of Jesus to commune with Him on the basis of a blood-sprinkled Mercy Seat. That Mercy Seat is Christ Himself, whose blood gives us access.
What did this do for my quiet time? It absolutely revolutionized it. Instead of looking at my watch and saying, "I have ten minutes to get through my prayer list," I simply knelt down and quietly meditated upon the fact that I was in the presence of the Lamb of God and worshiped Him. My quiet time then became something for Him, not something for me; and with the worship of my heart—the pouring out of my heart to Him in worship—came the overpowering awareness of His presence.
During our years in Japan I had a friend with whom I often labored. He had a Renault, a small car manufactured in France, in which he made his way around Tokyo. In those earlier days, the Japanese were most anxious to get you to buy their gasoline. When you pulled into any station, a whole army of attendants would descend on you. One would wipe your windshield, another would check your engine and water, yet another would check your tires, while the final attendant was busy with a little broom sweeping out your car. You just had to get out of their way.
As my friend Julius was driving along in Tokyo, he saw a little light blinking on his dashboard and knew he was short of oil. When he pulled into a gas station and got out of his car, this great army descended, washing, wiping, cleaning, everything. Then he drove out of the gas station and "blink, blink, blink." The team had checked the water in his radiator and the air in his tires, filled his tank with gas, swept out the car, washed the windshield, everything but that which he wanted. Is that your experience with the Lord? Do you do everything but that which He wants you to do?
He is seeking us for what? He is seeking us that we might worship Him. That is what the Word of God says. He wants us to study, to pray for others, to give to missions, to go where He directs. But what must precede this? Let us observe Oswald Chambers's significant word:
Worshipping God is the great essential of fitness. If you have not been worshipping ..., when you get into work you will not only be useless yourself, but a tremendous hindrance to those who are associated with you.
What would you say if you were asked, "What is the one thing needful, the one thing to really concentrate on in your Christian experience above all else?"
If you are a Baptist you might say, "Soul winning"; and that is admirable. "Soul winning, witnessing, getting others into the church is the primary thing, the one thing needful. If I maintain my passion for souls in my witnessing, all else will be well."
If you are a part of a Pentecostal group you might say, "The fullness of the Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit, is the one thing needful."
If you are Episcopalian you might say, "The one thing needful is reverence for God." Instead of considering the difference in emphasis in denominations, let us consider the Word of God. I believe we can prove from God's Word that which is the most needful in the experience of every disciple of Jesus Christ.
In Psalm 27 we read about David's experience. David was a truly remarkable man, an amazing servant of God. If you are fascinated by preaching, here was a great preacher. If you are inspired by a great leader, here was the great leader of the nation of Israel. If you are interested in soldiering, here was the great soldier, the unconquerable leader of Israel in battle. If you are interested in kingly qualities, he was a great king, the greatest king ever to sit on the throne of Israel. He was an amazing man, "a man," we are told, "after [God's] own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14), a wonderful man of many gifts who commanded the affection of a whole nation and led them to victory again and again. But, of course, we think of him primarily as the incomparable psalmist.
You might have asked David, "What is your ruling passion? What is that for which you live? What is it that dominates you, David? What is the mainspring of your life, the great objective of your life? Is it to be a great preacher, to convert sinners?"
He would have said, "No, not at all."
"Well, David, your passion must be to remain undefeated on the field of battle, to lead your men again and again to victory."
"Is it to rule as a great king, to sit on the throne?"
"Oh no, not at all."
"It's not your ruling passion to be a great king?"
I think he might have said, "It is rather incidental!"
"Incidental that you are a king?"
"Well, David, what is your ruling passion?"
We have his answer in Psalm 27:4: "One thing have I desired of the Lord." David desired only one thing, that was all; but if he had this, all else would follow.
"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire [or to meditate] in His temple."
There you have it in one verse of Scripture. There is only one thing he desired; but because he desired this one thing, all things became possible. This is the mainspring. This is what sets everything else in motion and enables all else to function as it was intended and to fulfill its appropriate role. If the one thing that is needful is desired and sought, everything else will fall into its proper place and will perform its proper function.
In a certain city in the southern United States, I recall on one occasion looking at my watch and thinking, "It's rather early." About ten minutes later I looked at my watch again. It was the same time. My watch looked the same—same hands, same case—but it was useless, for it had ceased to function as the maker intended. The mainspring had snapped. The one thing needful had ceased to function.
Keil and Delitzsch in their great commentary have this to say about David's desire:
There is only one thing that he desires, ... an ardent longing which extends out of the past into the future, and therefore runs through his whole life. The one thing sought is unfolded ... a lifelong dwelling in the house of Jahve, that is to say intimate spiritual intercourse ... is the one desire of David's heart, in order that he might behold and feast upon (of a clinging, lingering, chained gaze) the pleasantness (or gracefulness) of the Lord.
I am quoting from a commentary that is regarded by most conservative scholars as one of the finest on the Old Testament. What is being said? David's desire is an ardent longing that runs out of the past into the future. It is not a momentary thing. Intimate, spiritual intercourse is the one consuming desire of his heart, and it was this that dominated David all his days.
Is that not surprising? David is a man's man, a great soldier, a king of kings, and what does he want to do? The one thing he wants is to behold the beauty and the pleasantness of the Lord. Everything else is relatively incidental: being a great leader, being a great king, being a great preacher, being a great psalmist. Only one thing really matters—intimate fellowship with his God. To be a true worshiper of God is his passion.
But then he says, "That will I seek after." Because this was the primary thing, he knew very well he would never be able to achieve his objective unless he really sought for it; nor will you, my friend; nor will I. At the end of the day ask yourself what you have done with your time. How much time did you set aside to worship Jesus Christ? You might be surprised.
Of course, to worship Him in your quiet time is not the end. It is only the beginning. You are merely tuning your instrument to face the day. We seem to have the strange idea that if only we can have a quiet time, everything is going to be fine for the rest of the day; and if we do not have a quiet time, everything is going to turn out miserably. This is not so. The quiet time should be set aside early in the morning, but it is only the tuning of the instrument. You cannot say, "I have had my quiet time. Now I'm fine." This is just the beginning, getting in first gear, so to speak.
Excerpted from How to Worship Jesus Christ by Joseph S. Carroll, Jim Vincent. Copyright © 2013 Estate of Joseph S. Carroll. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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