Heart-training — Continued...
How to Love God More—
How to teach your heart to love God
more. How to love God in ways that
result in receiving His presence
On Loving God More and Loving Our Earthly Ways Less
Our love for God is divided because of idolatry of the heart. You can take steps to love God more whole-heartedly!
Elsewhere on this site it is discussed at length about how God defines idolatry in terms of ways we find refuge, strength, and glory apart from Him. It has also been noted how the earthly sources we depend on are always close to us—our personality, our appearance, what we do, what we know, the approval we feel from others. Sometimes we even love our doctrines or where we go to church as our place of refuge and strength.
It is vital that our love for God increase in ways that help to decrease our love for earthly sources. Because God defines idolatry as "other gods" that are close to us, it is our love for closeness to God that must increase.
We need to love God's presence as our refuge, glory, and strength—not our earthly substitutions. I want to show you how to love the closeness of God to you—because the idolatry of our heart suggests that anything less won't be enough.
The question is how. We know we should love God more, but knowing that isn't helping enough. Some people try to scold themselves into loving God more but that kind of love can only be superficial. It will never be warm and passionate.
Loving God more isn't about loving Him with our mind. Loving God more, is about a heart-felt response of pleasure and thrill to what our heart believes and loves about God.
Central to being less divided in our love for God is that we need to direct our heart to love God's glory and His grace to draw near to us. Doing this will help you make God your first love, your greatest treasure, your refuge, your glory, and your strength.
Four things are most important for loving God and experiencing His presence more fully.
Note that the process of loving God more never ends. These are the things we must always be taking steps to direct our heart toward at ever increasing levels; a heart that believes and loves the person of the Holy Spirit—in you and around you, as your refuge, your glory, and your strength; a heart that believes and loves that God has given you unhindered access into the throne room—that you can draw near to Him, and that you can stay close 24 hours-a-day; a heart that believes and loves the glory and the intensity of the fountain of God that you are drawing near; a heart that believes and loves God's grace to draw near to you—abundantly, because of your drawing near to the fountain of God.
(Much more is said elsewhere on this site about the scriptural basis for why it is right for you to believe and love these about God and your relationship to Him. Much more is also said about how to help your heart to believe and love these things about God.)
Because God is God we can never "arrive" at the goal of believing and loving Him as we should. More is always possible!
Love God's Grace to Lavish His Glory on You!
Use thanks and praise to nurture love toward God that you don't have to work at deserving His presence. Don't let up until your delight toward God is fanned into flame!
The promise is that when you draw near to God He will draw near to you (James 4:8). It also says that to please God, you have to believe that He rewards you with His presence any time you are seeking Him, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
Use thanks and praise to teach your heart to love God's unreserved grace to draw near to you by give you His presence continually, lavishingly! Remember that your faith pleases Him!
What if Your Heart isn't in it?
Even though your heart may be in disbelief, you still know with your mind that God is a God who keeps His promises. He will draw near to you when you draw near to Him! Your faith to trust Him to draw near gives Him great pleasure!
Wake yourself up! Even though your heart may not be in it, keep thanking Him with great joy because of what you know in your mind to be true about God. Listen to your thanks and praise! Eventually your heart will hear and you will find freedom to believe it!
On Loving the Exaltedness of Our God
Thrill your heart to love the exalted glory of our God! The more you grow to love the exalted state of God the less it will require discipline to remain in the throne room before the Lord. Your love for God will keep you there. You will find it easier to stay before the Lord because standing in His radiant presence will have become your treasure.
The principle is simple; "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mat. 6:21). Don't try to grow in your discipline about "abiding" and drinking continually. Grow in your love and discipline will come naturally. It will also be more fun because it won't even feel like discipline.
Increase your love for God by "hearing" your own praise concerning the truth about the radiant-glory of His love, kindness, and power that shine from Him. In this way you will be applying the scriptures to "ascribe glory to the Lord." (Psa. 29:1). In this way, you will become more aware of His presence without having to depend on pure discipline. Your affections will pull you toward the Lord. All of that to say, draw near then "practice the presence of God."
Remember that glory is the stuff we love in the natural realm. We love the glory of winning in sports, the glory of a new car, the glory of beauty, the glory of having a close friend.
We love these things because God made us need something that would make us feel secure and confident. It is by God's design that our love of glory in an earthly sense fits perfectly with the fact that God wants to be a God who is our refuge, our glory, and our strength.
Observe your level of delight in the glory of natural things and reapply an even greater level of delight as you thank the Lord about His greater glory. Direct your heart to love depending on God because anything else is idolatry.
What to Do When Your Heart Doesn't Feel Like Thanks and Praise toward God
When you don't feel in your heart like thanking God with joy, remember that in your mind you know that the greatness of our is worthy of elated praise. It is not being dishonest to thank God with great joy if your tone of voice is reflecting what you know in your mind to be true about God! Even though your heart may not be in it at first, listen to your praise. Soon, your heart will hear. You will believe. Your love for God and His closeness to you will grow.
But let me emphasize again that you don’t think of what is coming from the Lord as just "radiance" or light. God is shining the person of the Holy Spirit onto you. All the attributes of God are being radiated upon you in the person of the Holy Spirit.
When you make it your habit to continually increase your love for the Lord then drawing near to God and remembering to stay before Him will become much easier for you. Use your God-given human love of glory to your advantage. Thrill your heart about the glory of your access to God, His abundant grace to draw near to you, and about the greater glory in all of His attributes.
The more you love being before the Lord and the more you love the radiance around God, the more you will be free to receive His presence.
Another likely possibility when you don't feel like thanks and praise toward God is that demonic enemies are trying to keep you from it.
The easiest and most powerful way I know to solve this problem is to listen to yourself as you assertively say, "Thank you Lord that I don't have to agree with demonic pressure to avoid thanks and praise toward You." Another approach would be, "Lord I delight that I don't have to agree with demonic pressure to avoid taking steps to love You more. I can and will direct my heart to love You more!" (Note that the Heart-training! material has an entire section dedicated to this important topic.)
Wake Yourself Up!
There are times when you just have to arouse your heart to wake up. The Bible says, " There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities." (Isa. 64:7). You don't have to make that mistake! If you don't arouse your heart to believe and love the shine from God's face, then the power of sin will just keep getting stronger until you fall.
Wake yourself up by strong and assertive thanks and praise for the truth. You can enter before the Lord. You can enjoy the shine from His face. You can take hold of God. God has made a way.
Believe the Intensity
Jesus said we have to, "believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light" (John 12:36). But don’t think of the volume of the Holy Spirit radiating from Jesus as the amount of water that flows from the sprinkler out in your yard. I believe it is in reference to the fountain that the Bible says, "The God of glory thunders" (Ps. 29:3). The prophet Joel wrote, "The Lord roars from Zion" (Joel 3:16). The Bible also says, "His voice was like the sound of many waters" (Rev. 1:15; 14:2 and Ezek. 43:2). David wrote about the "sound" of God’s waterfalls (Ps. 42:7). David drew close enough to God that he could hear the roar of the fountain of God: "How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance" (Ps. 89:15). It is no wonder that the Bible says of God, "I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you" (Isa. 44:22).
Let me emphasize again that grace is the reason you can drink: "You give them to drink...For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light." (Ps. 36:8,9). When you think of the radiance of our Lord, nurture believing the vast volume of the Spirit flowing from Him. Don’t let yourself think of Jesus as a little fountain! Reassure yourself of God’s provision for you to be able to draw near. Once you learn to stay there, the result will be a river of His Holy Spirit flowing around and through you (John 7:37-39).
Just so you don’t miss it, believing your access to God, loving His presence radiated upon you, and believing the intense closeness of all His glorious attributes, are three of the most important practical principles I could give you for directing your heart toward God and enjoying His presence more intensely. Nurture faith to believe and freedom to receive by thanks for the truth about God and your access to draw near with nothing between you.
Teach Yourself to Keep Your Eyes on God
When you look at a mountain you don’t conjure up an image of a mountain in order to see it. You just open your eyes and look. The same applies with God.
David is our best example, "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall 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 meditate in His temple" (Psalm 27:4). You can nurture your faith enough to "see" like David did. Our Lord Jesus prayed for us that we would be able to see His glory—even while we are still living: "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). When, by faith, you believe you are before the Lord, take time often to consciously trust that you are turning the eyes of your soul and looking at Him—in all His glory.
Contemplate each and every one of all His attributes as you look at His presence being shined upon you. Praise Him while you are doing looking at Him in this way. This point is very important because it will strengthen you against temptation and will help you to stay turned toward God.
God commands us to see, "Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’" (Jer. 6:16). Directly related to this Old Testament passage are some things that Jesus promised us, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden...and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28,29). I don’t believe it is possible to find rest until we learn to let God quench our thirsty desires. Doing so, requires that we "come to Him" and "drink."
Again let me say that I am not talking about visualization here. I am only saying we should trust that we are looking at Him. David said, "For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes" (Psa. 26:3a). The Bible also says, "We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God, In the midst of Your temple" (Psa. 48:9). When you are trusting you are looking at the Lord, contemplate His lovingkindness and all the attributes of His Holy Spirit being radiated upon you. When you look with your spiritual eyes, you don’t have to try to conjure up images. With a heart full of faith, look at His radiance and trust you are looking at His power, love, kindness, majesty, wisdom. Look at all of who He is as He shines His presence upon you. Look while resting—not while reaching and straining.
The reason David felt safe was because "my eyes are toward You, O God, the Lord; In You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless" (Psa. 141:8b). He also wrote, "My eyes are continually toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net" (Psalm 25:15a). The scriptures are clear that applying the principle of "looking" at the Lord should be an important part of any Christian’s spiritual life. Rest into seeing better and better all the time.
Your Heart Follows Hard After What You Treasure
Let me say it again because the principle is so important; "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mat. 6:21). The more you treasure something the more single-hearted is your pursuit. Don't miss using this principle to your advantage.
Since your heart follows hard after what you treasure greatly, direct your heart to love your access before the Lord, that you can stay before Him, and that you can enjoy so much of His presence—because of His abundant grace. Remind yourself to think often about these things and thank God with great joy in your tone of voice.
Your heart isn't like a wild horse that needs to be tamed. Bridle your heart to turn it toward God. But then take the bridle off and let your heart run free. You don't have to bridle yourself when it comes to God. You don't have to hold back on how much you thrill your heart and enjoy His grace to lavish His presence on you!
Don't try to grow in your discipline about "abiding" and looking at the Lord more continually. Use any discipline you have to your advantage. But focus your effort on growing in your love and delight toward God. By doing so greater discipline will come naturally.
Don't just drift along letting your love toward God grow on it's own. Thank the Lord often that you don't have to settle for so little—I have to do this often or my love grows cold and I get dull toward God very quickly.
Loving God is just too important for a passive approach to growth. Take action! Become a wise and understanding teacher. Make your heart your student. Determine to have fun getting your heart to hear the many reasons to love and treasure God more.
I am praying for the Lord's abundant blessing on your efforts to direct your heart toward Him.
Heart-training — Continued...
(C) Barry Hall 1999
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