The Audience that Matters is watching you!

In my Bible reading this week some lines from Job really jumped out at me: “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him…you watcher of mankind?” (Job 7:17, 20 ESV) In the context Job was actually complaining, wishing God wouldn’t look so closely at him, and would be pleased to let him die; he was miserable. This got me to noticing other passages that refer to God watching mankind.  They’re everywhere, from beginning to end.  In the Garden, He spotted Adam and Eve hiding in their shame. And in Revelation Jesus is depicted with ‘eyes like a fiery flame’ (Rev.1:13-14)

Nothing escapes His notice…

No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. 

Heb.4:13 CSB

Then all the churches will know that I am the one who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Rev.2:23 CSB

As one who has alwayed struggled with self-consciousness and people-pleasing these passages are a little uncomfortable. I still feel, for instance, the intimidation I felt as a young teen Candy-striping at a big hospital.  I must have volunteered to please my mom; she thought it a great opportunity.  But I hated being in the public eye, and those elevator rides up and down and those long hallways going to and fro with mail and lab samples–Shudder! This was not for me!  My experience lasted only as long as it took me to get the nerve up to disappoint my Mom and to get myself to the Head Office and quit!  But that sense of being ‘watched’ still dogs my steps some days when I’m out and about. 

I care too much what people think of me (despite my mom’s long-imbedded quip: “Who cares what thinkle peop?!”) despite my perceptive husband’s reminder that the whole thing is a delusion which assumes others even notice me, when likely most of them are thinking of themselves, not me!  But shaking this has been a matter of prayer lately and in the Word this week I see this hopeful truth– God is watching, and His is the only watchful eye that counts!  For there is a world of difference between being critically surveilled based on appearances and being protectively watched over by One who has your best interests at heart.  That difference is in the eye and the heart of the Beholder.

“For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him.

II Chron.16:9 CSB

Though I may look at others with snap judgments,  measuring them up based on my own insecurities, as though the comparison could somehow boost my own ego…God does not see this way.  His assessment isn’t based on any agenda other than my good for His Glory.  The two are inseparable.  He is unruffled by appearances but cares crucially about my heart.  And even there He doesn’t look in order to shame, but in order to bring to light, in order that I can be freed to walk in that light with an eye only to pleasing Him.

Someone has coined the phrase ‘an audience of one’.  This One in whom ‘we live and move and have our being’ is the only One whose opinion of us ultimately matters.

I am my Father’s dearly loved child.  He watches over me to do me good.  To protect, to correct, to direct, to perfect, all on His loving timetable.  He is the guardian of my soul. 

For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

I Pet.2:25 CSB

How vast is this difference between being watched and being watched over!

Because our God is both omniscient and all-loving we can trust Him with our hearts.  We can pour them out before Him. We can request that He search them and show to us what we most need to see, and the truth to counter it!  And we can walk with confidence knowing that He will accomplish His transforming work in us.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Ps.138:8 ESV

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Ps.139:23-24 ESV

If you’ve come by and shared this counseling session with me, I thank you and hope that you too have been encouraged to look to an Audience of One and find there a radiant smile. Oh how He cares for us.

–LS

I have a hope in God

I have a hope in God… that there is going to be a resurrection, both of the righteous and the unrighteous.

–Paul, Acts 24:15 HCSB

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.… For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!

But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, so I can tell about all You do.

Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care.

Your Father knows [your needs]. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Zech. 9:12, 17 ESV; Ps.73:28 HCSB; Ps.95:6,7 HCSB; Luke 12:30-32 HCSB


I’m struck by what a difference it makes where our hopes are staked. When we’re really trusting God, the present circumstances don’t matter so much because they are not all there is. I know there’s a strong cultural trend right now to ‘live in the moment’, ‘be fully present’, and make the most of NOW. This has its merits. But sometimes, this is not enough to bring peace of mind. Consider the following scenarios. Without a focus beyond the moment these folks were in trouble!

God’s people are in a desert in want of WATER! They think they’re gonna die! Rather than trust their Shepherd with their needs they protest the wait and scheme about a return to slavery. They have not understood God’s ways. They’ve forgotten their great Hope. They will find no rest. (Ex.17)

God’s servant, Paul, is falsely accused by envious religious leaders and ends up in jail interminably. Instead of protesting, he shares his greatest hope at every opportunity, gaining audience with kings! It’s not about him.(Acts 25ff)

David is predestined to be the King of Israel but is still fleeing from the conniving King Saul who wants to see him dead! Hiding out in caves and foreign lands he waits and refuses every opportunity to bring about ‘justice’ and put himself on the throne. His hope in God is firmly fixed. (I Samuel)

Have you heard of Charles Templeton? He was once slated to be as famous an evangelist as Billy Graham (1940’s). But in the face of inexplicable suffering, modern “scientific” claims and the like he began to doubt. Gradually he allowed his reasoning to trump the Word of God until he came to renounce the hope he had once proclaimed. His 1996 book, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith, came into my hands while sorting donated books at our local thrift store this week. What a sorry tale of abandoned hope.

Closer to home, two young church families have lost their fathers in our town this year. Their wives are left to face the valley of grief with little ones in tow. I’m praying that the sure hope of a coming Resurrection will anchor their hearts in this agonizing season, even while the God of hope walks with them through all the present moments.

These accounts remind me that it’s the tough times that show up where our hopes are anchored. Lousy harbors and poorly tied knots will do the job when all is calm. Meditating on the wonders of the present moment might even bring a certain peace of mind. But storms come. May we be counted amoung the faithful Hebrews 11 crew who endured all sorts of horrific things in this lifetime knowing they had a better hope coming!

To mix up the metaphor, may we run with endurance the racecourse especially marked out for us by keeping our eyes on Jesus, our Resurrected Saviour and our ever living High Priest!

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Heb.4:14-16 ESV

Who else is there?

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Jn.6:58 ESV

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Blessed is the one who is not offended by me. –Jesus

Matt.11:2-3 ESV

But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…

I Pet.3:14-15

God grant that we be people marked by hope, beacons to the Resurrection and the Life!

–LS

P.S. I’m hoping to get back to regular posts here and would be very much encouraged to know you’ve stopped for a minute to read here today. ( :
Do say hello in the comments…

Your Strength Will Lie in Quiet Confidence



…”Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. … everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made…You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession… But Christ was faithful as a Son over his household. And we are that household if we hold on to our confidence and the hope in which we boast

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross–“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: “You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.”

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Is. 43:1, 7, 10-11 ESV; Heb. 3:1,6 CSB; Phil. 2:8 CSB; Mk. 8:34 NASB; Is. 30:15 CSB; Phil.2:13 HCSB; Gal.2:20 CSB

—————–

Quiet Confidence–while walking to His death, while serving, serving, serving all along the way–laying down His life even before He gave Himself up to the Cross. I am SO impressed with Jesus, with the way He lived His short life in such an unhurried, undistracted, purposeful way.

I want to be like that.

He was unhurried by the urgings of others and undeterred by their insults and threats. He was not distracted, discouraged, impatient or intimidated. He merely walked on by the Spirit, in the knowledge of who He was and what the Father was calling Him to do at any given moment. Though He was a misfit in our world and was scorned, doubted, debated and sometimes adored, none of it ruffled His sense of quiet confidence.

I want to be like Him, hearing a Voice in my ear when I turn to the right or the left, “This is the way. Walk in it.” I am trusting that as I spend time looking at Him in the Word and considering His Words as they pertain to me (!), that He will do for me what I cannot do for myself–grant me a life lived in quiet confidence in the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me ( :
–Linda

“Therefore, holy brothers and companions in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession– “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Is.30:21; Heb.3:1 HCSB; Ps.37:4 ESV



Hang on–He has overcome!

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called… In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus…I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time–God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to Him. But we do see Jesus [having tasted death for everyone] crowned with glory and honor…

…the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us…in this hope we were saved.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.  Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

We would see Jesus.


I Tim. 6:12-16 NIV; Heb.2:8,9 HCSB; Rom.8:18,24 HCSB; Jn.16:33 NIV; I Jn.5:4-5 HCSB; I Jn.3:2 HCSB; Gal.2:20 HCSB; Jn.12:21KJV

Amen?

May the hope of what’s to come fill our hearts today. 
And may any present disappointment, doubt or grief bow to Jesus’ Lordship. 
He is our life and only hope!

–Linda

Whose heart are you following?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick [incurable, desperately wicked, malignant] who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind…

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes.

…The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart– And [Jereboam] walked in all the sins of his father…his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.

David: Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.

Caleb: For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.

Then [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Prov.14:12 ESV; Jer.10:23 ESV; Jer.17:9-10 ESV; Prov.3:3,5-7 NKJV; I Sam.13:14 NKJV; I Kings 15:3 NKJV; Ps.51:10 NKJV; Ps.81:13 NLT;  Ez.36:26 ESV; Joshua 14:8 NLT; Ps.32:8-9 NKJV; Lk. 9:23 NLT; Rom. 6:13 NKJV; Jn. 8:12 NLT; Jn.10:27 ESV

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FOLLOW YOUR HEART is trendy advice. Given the post-modern penchant for embracing whatever ‘truth’ works for you, it’s fitting and certainly heart-felt. But beware the comely brush-script abloom with floral loveliness. Such flourishing is only truly found in pursuit of God’s heart.  To follow His heart is to discover the fruitfulness for which you were made!

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps.37:4 ESV

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Ps.36:7-9 ESV

–Linda