Monday, April 22, 2024

Consumed with God: The Pursuit of God

My wife tells me that I sometimes become nearly obsessed with certain things. I get so focused on something it consumes me. I fall into the pool after staring into it too long. Are you like that?

I have a bit of an obsessive, addictive personality. I want it and I want more. I want to learn more. I want to go all in. If I go I want to touch the bottom.

For many years, my obsession was self-destruction. I slowly destroyed myself in the grips of addiction. I was all in for self destruction. I loved it. I got off on it. I thought it was funny. Desperate laughter. And my punishment was waiting for me in the next life.

Once I became a Christian, a follower of Jesus, I put away self destruction. I chose life, to live and build a new life around a new banner. The banner of God’s kingdom.

It starts by plunging in. You have to cry out to Jesus Christ, believing that he really can change your heart. You go from there to church to learn the gospel, forgiveness of sins and what it all means but it starts with crying out in prayer

Then begins a slow take over of your heart by God. The journey of faith goes on for years, of slow growth.

But I think at some point, we want to move toward going all in for God.

We are consumed by God completely… while our obsession used to be selfishness and self destruction and we were very excited about that, we now pursue knowing God with abandon.

That’s our first point today, pursue God with abandon. Can you do that? Can you learn to love doing that?

I used to love to sit down to drink and smoke weed, and we had our little rituals, places, times, and we went all in for that.

It reminds me of the parable of the treasure in a field, the man finds out this treasure is in this field, so he sells everything he owns to buy the field. He goes all in for this new thing.

There is something exciting and freeing and liberating about going a bit crazy for God.

Early on I said to myself, "I’m going to go all in for this Christian thing." I’m going to do things like pray for an hour at a time or more. I’m going to listen to worship music all day. I’m going to fast for days.

You hit the ground running. I did that 11 years ago and I never looked back. It became my new mission.

I always do things 100%, when it was self destruction, it was destroying myself with all my might. Today it’s chasing God with 100% effort.

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Yet very quickly as I began my relentless pursuit of God, knowing God, knowing His word, I found things in the way in my life, things that we call sins.

I knew it said in the word Romans 6:1l, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Point number two today, to pursue God means to break free from sins.

So I began surrendering my sins to God, and repenting of them. Sometimes they went quickly, other times it took longer to be free. Addictions were challenging to be free from, but with support groups like Celebrate Recovery and other twelve step fellowships, there was hope. Same thing with sexual sin, also very difficult to break free from.

Galatians 5:24 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

The flesh had to be crucified, my old ways to acting, my old sin patterns, they had to change, and slowly God changed my thinking to fix what was once broken.

Slowly but surely that began to take place. I really didn’t want to leave behind my old selfish ways. But God helped me to see there was a better way.

Yet I knew it would take more than that to be truly in pursuit of God, truly consumed in God.

It would take surrendering my will to God.

That’s our third point today, let God’s will be done in your daily life.

I would need to begin to let God lead my life in a very practical way. Lord, what’s next? Lord where do you want me? God will direct every step of your life. He will make your crooked places straight, if you let Him.

As it says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

And again in John 3:30, John the Baptizer said about Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

All of this occurs dear friends not by strenuous effort, though as we surrender things to God he may give us footwork to do. But no, all of this is done very paradoxically.

It’s done by coming to God over and over and more and more deeply.

We come to God over and over in the power of love, His love for us, our love for Him, and this love melts us. 

That’s our fourth point, let God’s love and power melt you.

Here we find it extremely useful to be a maniac like myself who is obsessive about the things he puts effort into. If I do something, I go all in, so with God, I go all in. I pursue God relentlessly. 

And I fear God. That’s my secret weapon. I really honestly fear God. Not just reverence. But honestly fear, terror even. Is that bad? No. It’s good. It’s so good. It’s victory. It’s the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverb 1:7, 2 Cor 7:1).

But just as much, I love God and the love of God convinces me to want to do right. 

So with the fear of the Lord and the love of the Lord, I find victory within, through two motivations guiding me toward the right, fear and love. 

In all this, I strive to get as close to God as possible. And by getting closer and closer to God, the self falls away. Melts away.

Two factors are at work causing the melting, the fear of the Lord melts self away from one angle of trembling and fear and concern to want to do God’s will. Just as love, the hot powerful love of God melts me away. Then, in the boldness of a child who knows he is loved, I'm able to strike out from a place of strength. These two things burn away the dross and I become the man I was always meant to be. 

This occurs practically in long prayer times, in times of silence, in times of meditation on the word of God, and deep study of the word. But primarily this relationship is drawn into through prayer.

“What is prayer? Prayer is a certain warmth of love. Ah, but more! Prayer is a melting! Prayer is a dissolving and an uplifting of the soul. This warmth of love, this melting, this dissolving and uplifting causes the soul to ascend to God. As the soul is melted, sweet fragrances begin to rise from it. These fragrances pour forth from a consuming fire of love ... and that love is in you. It is a consuming fire of love in your inmost being, a fire of love for God.” -Jeanne Guyon

The love of god, the fear of the Lord, these things get us ready for the final point today, which is to forsake self and be lost in God.

Point number five, annihilation of self brings a void which God fills in you. In this you pass into God, you are consumed by Him, and He becomes your all.

“But how do you pass into God? By forsaking your self that you may be lost in Him! You can be lost in Him only by the annihilation of the self. And what has that to do with prayer? The annihilation of self is the true prayer of worship! It is a prayer you must learn—learn in all the totality of its deepest possible meaning. This is the experience that renders to God, and to God alone, all "blessing, honor, glory, and power, forever and ever." -Jeanne Guyon

Jeanne Guyon calls this a prayer of worship, to allow your fleshly self, your lower nature, to be completely annihilated by God.

It’s either all or nothing. In fact scripture very much speaks in those kinds of terms. God must have all of you. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. There is no partial, its all or nothing. Jesus said you’re either with me or against me. There is no middle position.

Jeanne Guyon continues… 

“Dear reader, there are, in fact, only two truths: the All and the Nothing. Everything else is a lie. God is All; you are nothing. The only way you can pay due honor to God is by your own annihilation. As soon as this wonderful work is done, God moves in.” -Jeanne Guyon

When you allow God to completely take over, you draw so near to Him that the fleshly self is no longer in control, but truly crucified, as the scriptures tell us it must be, then God moves in and reigns in us.

We’ve all met those rare Christians who are really led by the Spirit of God. They are really living crucified lives. And it's beautiful.

I often wonder what that looks like, how do I have that? How do I know I’m living that? It means I’m really totally given over to God’s leading in my life. Nothing resists Him in me any longer.

As Jeanne Guyon says…

“It is true first when God becomes the Master and Lord within you so completely that nothing in you resists His dominion. It is then that your inner being, your spirit, is His kingdom. That is when God possesses you.” – Jeanne Guyon

As Jesus said, “the Kingdom of God is within you.” When we are really crucified with Christ, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, God really possesses us. We really are Christians, disciples in the world, following the leading of our Master.

Does that seem too tall of an order? I’m sure that’s what you're thinking. Certainly that can’t be possible, can it? Can we really be consumed by God, totally surrendered to Him, truly “dead to self” and ‘alive to Christ”?

It is true. It is also truly a miracle from God when it happens. But you must strike out in bold belief that can God and will do it in you. Just believe that. Don’t argue with it. Don’t stress over it. Don’t ring your hands over it. Don’t doubt. Just simply believe that God can do anything in you.

Then it’s not just possible, but it will certainly happen if you pursue it. Like a wild man, a bit obsessive, doggedly. 

I want all of Jesus, or I want none. I will not go half way. Have the same attitude. All of this. It’s much more fun that way friends. Honestly, when you start getting deep into Christianity, into the supernatural elements, the healing, the dreams, the visions, the gospel spreading revivals, the spiritual gifts, the fasting, angels and demons, spiritual warfare, this is exciting stuff! It’s not boring. It’s when you hang out on the fence and go lukewarm that it’s boring and pointless. When you go all in, it’s an amazing adventure beyond description.

In all this, the purpose is to enjoy God by allowing God to have all of us. That is our destiny, what we were made for, to enjoy God forever!

“…in His kingdom there is fulness of joy. Our ultimate purpose is to enjoy God ... in this life. To enjoy God! This is the very purpose for which we were created.” -Jeanne Guyon

Let’s Review our Main Points:

1. Pursue God with abandon

2. Pursuing God means breaking free from sin

3. Let God will be done in your life

4. Self melts away as we seek God in prayer in fear and love

5. Annihilation of self/flesh brings God’s presence within, which is His kingdom come, and enjoyment of God