— Brother Phil Enlow: I feel my need especially this morning. I’ve had so many thoughts going through my head and a lot of them are gonna sound like a broken record for those of you who are old enough to know what that is. But I feel like the Lord has been emphasizing things to me, and maybe it’s mostly my life, I don’t know. Very closely related to what has been, and also even very closely related to Wednesday night and the thoughts that came to me there.
And one thought that’s very related, I think, to what we’ve been talking about…the Lord in us, and not a life of self-effort and all that, is this simple area of need. It certainly is one that I have experienced and I doubt I’m the only one or the Lord wouldn’t have put this on my heart. But the Devil does everything in his power to build a sense in us of distance between us and God. I see a few heads nodding. You know what I’m talking about.
We know He’s for us. We know He’s in us. We know it intellectually, but somehow, emotionally, we just still feel like it’s me down here muddling through and He’s off there. And I need to somehow get Him, and…we don’t realize God’s plan. We don’t realize God’s heart in all of this.
We imagine, far more than we would like to admit that He’s like us, that He reacts to our ups and downs, and, His emotions toward us are sort of reflected by how we feel. And we’re constantly looking for feedback instead of walking by faith and trusting what He says.
So many issues that the Devil uses, and of course, our ups and downs certainly play into it because, obviously when I feel like I have fallen short and fallen prey to something that’s a part of my weakness, it’s very difficult to feel like He loves me in that moment and He’s there, and I don’t have to do something to somehow bring Him back. I believe the Lord wants to share with us something along this line.
And I’ve had way more thoughts than I could possible express and all I can do is say, Lord, You’re gonna have to take and make sense out of this, and put it in some order. But you know, I began, Wednesday night, I think, or very early on, by referring to the very beginning. We know God’s plan was formulated fully in His heart. He foresaw everything, including this meeting this morning, before He ever created the world.
See, He’s outside of time. He’s not bound by the linear time flow that we are. And so, He created a perfect world, didn’t He? There was no sickness, no sin, none of the decay that we see, none of the evil, but there was a choice that was placed before our parents, and they made the wrong one, didn’t they? And as soon as they did, there was a barrier that rose between them and God. They felt a separation. And it’s something we’ve wrestled with ever since.
But they felt that separation, and what it caused them to do was, when they heard the Lord coming and walking in the Garden, what did they do? They hid, didn’t they? And even before that, they had been made conscious of something that they had not been conscious of before, that they were naked. And suddenly, it brought shame to them. And so, they concocted their own way of covering that.
And we saw the mercy of God revealed in such plainness, when the Lord didn’t say, oh well, they’ve messed up, forget about all this. He came and said, Adam, where are you? Don’t you see His heart in that? There was a reaching out. He surely knew, but He wanted them to confess what had happened.
And so, He provided the means and predicted ahead of time what was going to happen, prophesied that there was gonna come a time when that serpent was gonna have his head crushed, and it was gonna be Somebody born of the seed of the woman that he had deceived. Later on, there was gonna be some descendant of hers that was going to rise up and crush his head, and praise God for that descendent. He’s the One we worship today.
Of course, the interesting thing to me is…I hadn’t thought about this part of it until this moment. But, I’ll just drop this in. Whenever we see something like this, where the Lord God comes down and He’s face-to-face talking with them, who is that? Who is that? It’s the Lord Jesus. We’d know Him later. He became the Son…He was the Son of God. He became Jesus when He entered into the world.
But my Bible tells me that God is a spirit. He is an invisible spirit. No one has ever seen Him…nor will they ever. He is a spirit that fills everything and beyond. Whatever there is, He fills it. But the One who has made Him known, the One who is His image, He is the very image of the invisible God, we’re told. And it was through Him that He has done everything.
So, when we see a literal figure, like somebody who could stand there in the Garden and they could see Him, that was the Son of God. When Moses met with the Lord face-to-face in the Tabernacle, in the Tent of Meeting, that was the Lord Jesus. Whenever He appeared, at any point in the Old Testament, or since, that’s the way God makes Himself known, as Someone that we could relate to.
And of course, we made the point many times, that was what Isaiah saw. How could you see an invisible God? But he saw a figure, didn’t he? He saw, literally, the Lord. And so, he literally…I’ll just drop that in…because that helps us to understand a little bit when we read some of these Old Testament passages, how it could say, oh, the Lord God appeared to him. The Lord God appeared to the seventy elders of Israel. They saw a figure, didn’t they?
Well, they were seeing the Son of God, because before He came to this world, He was a…I was gonna say a creature. He wasn’t a creature. He was the divinely born Son of God, but He had all the glory that He has now. He laid that aside when He came into the world, but anyway…the purpose of bringing that up was to show you, demonstrate God’s heart.
And that is the pattern, that’s the reality, that’s the truth, that we see unfolding throughout scripture, is a God who seeks us when we would never seek Him, a God who desires, not just a people who practice a religion. He desires a people with whom He can have an intimate, close, 24/7 relationship, exactly what Carl was talking about, exactly what was expressed in our men’s meeting. How often does that happen? Like, every time. It’s the same thoughts that I believe the Lord wants to impress upon us.
And, there are so many scriptures that you could…I mean, that’s the problem. Where do you stop? But I want to turn to one at the end of Revelation. Let’s see where this is all going, because it isn’t just about here. But, we see this picture in Revelation 21 of a new heaven and a new earth and all of that, and how we will inhabit that.
But then it talks about God coming down, and then the new order of things. And this is the order going forward for all eternity. It said, “Now the dwelling of God is with men…” (NIV).
Now, that doesn’t suggest to me some separation, some deity who is up there, sort of smiling benevolently on us down here. This is a God who is with us! Absolutely, there is a union, there is a 24/7 relationship, and boy, we need to get that, don’t we? But this is where He is taking us and has promised to take us. He’s the only One that can do that.
How can I prepare myself for something like this? There’s no way. All I can do is lift up my hands and say, oh God, You have promised. Your Word declares that this is the destiny that You have set before us and You are the One who has prepared the way so that I can enjoy that destiny. Praise God!
“They will be his people….” It said, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.” Amazing! “They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Praise God!
So, you see in the beginning how the Lord, even when He knew what had happened, came seeking, didn’t He, came providing…always this was the desire of His heart, to have a relationship with His creatures. So, He doesn’t treat us like little, old slaves running around, but as sons and daughters. There’s a relationship.
But what I…obviously, this is wonderful to talk about the hereafter, but I’ll tell you, God wants us to…this is something God wants us to enjoy here and now. This is meant to be an order of things that we enjoy in this world! We begin here. We don’t say, well, it’s gonna be wonderful someday. Right now, I’m muddling through. Thank You, Lord.
You’re up there, sort of…I can call on You when I need You, and I come, and this, that and the other thing. But, oh God, just stay up there, because I’m uncomfortable around You. Kind of got quiet, didn’t it? Where do you think that comes from?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. This is not God’s order. God wants us to get to a place where we feel at rest in His presence, where we want Him close. And there are so many things that work against that in our nature. Oh, I don’t want Him close. He’ll see what I’m doing, like…good grief! Give me a break. Do you think He doesn’t know? He knows everything about you, and more than you know.
But oh, we don’t want Him to come too close, or…Lord, I’ll just cut loose on Sunday morning, and we’ll worship and we’ll just have a great old time, we’ll enjoy Your presence, but the rest of the time, kind of…go back someplace else. Don’t stay too close. Or, Lord, would You mind just stepping away a bit, I’ve got something I want to do?
The Lord wants us to come to a place where we walk with Him. If there’s that kind of sense in us that, Lord, I don’t really want You close right now. I’m doing something I’m not too comfortable with. I know You wouldn’t be comfortable about this, so, just indulge me here. I’m gonna do my thing for a little while.
Oh God! God wants to bring us to a place where He can be the center, where our greatest joy and our greatest rest is not…leaving here and going, whew! Now I can go back to being me and going back to what I want. Oh God, help us.
The Devil keeps us in places of weakness and I see this…you know, at times, when I’m struggling with a particular need and a weakness, and we all do…but I wonder, how in the world did I get back to this? You know, I think I used this same illustration but for a different purpose last week. How did I get here? Why is this still such a problem to me?
And…it seemed like last week, I think the emphasis was, well, you just really don’t believe My Word. But there’s another aspect to it. You can believe what He says all you want to, but if in your mind He’s out there and you’re down here obeying principles, then it’s still just you!
Think about that. If the secret to the Christian life is wrapped up in the things that we do, the lifestyle we adopt, then how does that differ from any other religion? You may differ in the details and all of that, but it’s something we practice. We go to church, which is not a biblical concept at all, but anyway, you understand what I’m saying. That’s how we put it. But we come to church gatherings.
Well, that’s part…I’m a Christian, now what do I do? Well, you read your Bible. You pray. You go to church services. If you have a problem, you ask God about it. And all those things are fine. But if they become just activities and things that we do, my God, that’s just another form of Law, where everything we do is just distilled down into an outward thing, an activity.
And how long do you have to do that before it feels like a duty. Oh God, I didn’t pray, or I didn’t pray long enough. And we just think in these terms of, this is my duty, this is how I’m supposed to do this, when God wants to get us to the point where, I ‘get’ to do this. Lord, I want to be with You.
And not only that, it’s not like we divide life into secular and sacred, where if I’m building something and I’m nailing something that…okay, God, I’ll get with you later. God wants to be in the middle of that! God wants to share every moment of our lives with us and for us to be okay with that, for us to be totally at peace with His presence.
And I confess a need. I know I’m not alone. But there are barriers, there are ways that the Devil has of tricking every one of us into sort of letting down and just…and feeling like God is there and I’ve got to do something—I’ve ‘got’ to do something, instead of, He’s right here.
You know, the point I made Wednesday night was…like I say, I don’t know how all of this is going to order. This was not exactly how I imagined it, but that’s okay. My imagination needs a lot of help. But the point I made Wednesday night was, we get it backwards. When it comes to the presence of God and feeling ‘okay’ with Him, like everything is okay, we feel…when we feel a need, we feel like, I’ve got to do something and then I can go.
And it’s exactly the opposite. It’s when I feel a need, that’s when I need to run to Him and sing, “O Lord, I Need You.” What a perfect song to lead up to this. I was ready to quit playing and come on over here. And then…I’m thankful that song was sung. That’s exactly what we need.
And here the Lord is saying, I love you. I get where you’re at. I know your struggles. But you can’t just cherry-pick scriptures out of here and quote them and quote them and quote them, and beat this. You can’t change just by affirming the Word of God, as important as that is, if you’re leaving Me out. I’m the key to everything.
I didn’t give you a religion to follow. I came down so that I could have this relationship, starting now that we’re gonna enjoy for all eternity. I mean, do you think in eternity we’re gonna say, oh my God, He’s close. I’ve got to be careful here. I’ve got to watch how I think and watch what I…God doesn’t want us walking on eggs around Him. He wants us to be completely at rest in His presence, and to have a confidence that’s not based upon us.
Folks, if we’re in His presence, there are gonna be changes. There’s gonna be strength that comes in. I mean, one illustration would be, you could take an electrical appliance, and you could study it, you could take it apart, you could know everything possible about it, but if you don’t plug it in, what good is it? You might be the world’s best expert on how that thing works, but if you don’t plug it in there’s no power.
And I can’t tell you the number of times when I have just kind of bopped through my day and next thing you know, I’m in a weak place and I just feel like God’s gone somewhere. Of course, the reality is, He’s gone nowhere! I mean, where does He go? Is He…well, I guess I’ve got to leave Him alone awhile. He is right there. The problem is, I’ve sort of disconnected.
And He’s trying to encourage me to reach out. Not just to reach out and I feel good and He’s gonna be happy with me because I’ve been doing good, with the outward stuff, but He wants me to come to Him, every moment of every day, when I’m at my worst, my weakest, whatever has just happened, I can run to Him and know that He loves me.
Isn’t that the message of the Word? But do we really get that? Do we live as if that’s really true? Somehow, I feel like God wants to make Himself more real. And I believe He’s willing to take us there, if we will…if we’ll seek Him. I don’t know where to begin with all the scriptures, but I know there’s so much in the Word that’s an example, both of God’s heart but also, of men who walked with God.
What about Enoch? I mean there’s a guy…he couldn’t have known a lot. So, this isn’t about being an encyclopedia of divine knowledge. God knows where we’re at. I mean, a child can walk with God! Do you think they need a theological degree to know about God? We…see all the things we substitute sometimes. It’s good to have knowledge. And I’ll tell you, I have…this is one of my issues, I guess…my own personality, I tend to assimilate information, organize it, dispense it…that’s part of…that’s the way my mind works.
But, do you see the danger of that? That you can substitute knowledge and suppose that that gives you power by itself. It doesn’t do it, not unless we are connected to the source of power. Then there can be an understanding. It all works together, but if I’m leaving Him out of the equation, then what?
But here’s Enoch…early in earth’s history, walking with God! Now think about that from God’s point of view. There’s this guy down there and he sure doesn’t know much…I’ve got better things to do. I mean, that’s how we think, but God doesn’t have any better things to do. His whole being, His nature is defined, as we’ve said so many times, by love! And love is that quality that devotes itself sacrificially to the welfare of the object of that love!
I don’t know how in the world…a God, a being like Him, that breathe out stars, could want anything to do with somebody like me, but that’s the focus of His heart! And I feel the need and I know others feel that need, of us coming to a place of deeper rest…where it’s not like, I know I need to be in His presence, but I’m uncomfortable with it. There’s this back and forth tension that’s going on. And I just want to get to the place where, yes, just as I am, I’m welcome in His presence.
Now you understand, I’m not talking about somebody who’s just willingly going on, trying to live their life, and trying to use that as an excuse. If you get near Him, that’s not gonna work. You’ll know it. But I mean…there are people who delude themselves that they can have that kind of relationship.
But I’ll tell you, if your heart is to want Him, that’s the desire of your heart, God wants you—God wants you! God wants you—God wants you! God wants to be part of your life. He wants to be, not part of it, He wants to ‘be’ your life. He wants to be right in the center of everything you do. When you’re driving down the street, when you’re pounding a nail, when you’re turning over the pages of your books…every part of it, God wants to be in the center of it.
But He walked with Enoch, didn’t He? “Enoch walked with God.” It says the same thing about Noah! There was a man, at a critical juncture of the world’s history, when the world itself had turned its back upon God to the point where He said, “…every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (KJV). There was a man in the midst of this, who walked with God. And guess what? God walked with him and talked to him, and made provision for him. That’s the God that we serve. His eyes run to and fro in the earth, seeking those whose hearts are turned to Him. Oh, praise God!