Greetings in the precious name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord bless you and make you a blessing. I want to talk to you just a few moments about our conversation and fellowship with Jesus Christ.
If I were asked what the thing is that the world, the flesh and the Devil try the hardest to prevent us from getting, I would reply, “Conversation with Christ, really talking to the Lord Jesus Christ!” I know this from my own experience, and also of other people. A quiet, unhurried fellowship with Jesus Christ, alone, and then waiting to hear what He has to say, this is what every Christian needs every day, but is something that some of us only get once a month or more seldom still; others never.
Now I wonder when you last talked to the Lord Jesus Christ; just had a real personal conversation with Him? Oh, it’s so easy to go to church, and it’s so easy to listen to prayers, and join in with them. It’s easy to sing to Him, to pray with others, or to think that we’re doing so because we feel refreshed and helped by it. But why should it turn out that it is a mistake of ours to imagine that we are actually conversing personally with Him at those times, and that we really were only talking or singing to be heard by other people and ourselves! What if it should, I say, turn out that way? I feel anxious with people who only pray in churches, or those that only pray in prayer meetings or when others are present.
The danger is that if you don’t converse with Him alone each day, you suddenly wake up to the fact that you and your Savior are sort of strangers to each other. It’ll be a terrible surprise to you that nothing should remain of all the work on which you spent your life. The words “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) are sometimes forgotten by us. And that certainly is true so far as prayer is concerned, if it’s just in public and with friends, and in a meeting here and there.
He meant that you should have talked to Him continually about everything you do, and everything you care about. You should have been always conscious of His sympathy and oversight and working. But instead of that, you talk to men and women and make shift with their sympathy and advice and help, and they’re so awfully human. He meant you to have told Him your anxieties, and He would have ended them. But when you only consult with friends, why, matters will just get worse and worse. He meant us to have asked Him for light about that doctrine which you could not understand, and when you just go to books and get it explained, you’ll become more uncertain than you were before. But He would have satisfied you if you had gone to Him personally.
He meant you to have confessed to Him that secret thing and He would have forgiven you and cleansed you, but when you only confess it to a companion, you will never get relief. He meant you to have asked Him personally how much money you were to give away, but you settled that yourself, and perhaps you didn’t settle it right. He would have been your counselor about the profession you chose and the situation you accepted, the servant you engaged, the books you read, the fellowship you formed—but you chose other counselors or did after your own choosing, and that’s why it was a failure in the end result.
Oh, God grant that you’ll talk to Him, to Christ, your personal friend and counselor! Conversation with Him will make all the difference in the world. I want to ask, is Jesus your personal friend or not? Do you talk to Him personally about all these things?
Recently a young husband came back to the empty house where he had spent happy days when first married. But the wife had left him over some petty quarrel. This is what he said, that he went back to that emptiness, and he pinned little slips of paper in every room, hoping that when she came back for her things she would see them, because, he said, it was all emptiness without her presence there. And on those slips of paper he put those very words: “Without you here, it is all emptiness.” She did come back and her heart was touched.
But I can pin that sign on every creed and doctrine and ordinance and on every church, the sign: “It’s emptiness without You, dear Lord.” It’s all empty without Christ Himself. For life itself is but one long round of anxiety without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So I just wanted to say over again what perhaps I’ve said numbers of times: It’s only as you come into this personal relationship that you’ll have peace for your troubled soul. And so [it is] in prayer: It’s this fellowship with Him, this personal conversation.
John Oxenham wrote these wonderful words:
Not what, but whom, I do believe
That in my darkest hour of need
Hath comfort that no mortal creed
To mortal man may give.
Not what but whom,
For Christ is more than all the creeds
And his full life of gentle deeds
Shall all the creeds outlive.
Not what I do believe, but whom
Who walks beside me in the gloom
Who shares the burden wearisome;
Who all the dim way doth illumine
And bids me look beyond the tomb
The larger life to live.
Not what I do believe but whom.
Isn’t that wonderful, and isn’t that true? Not what, but whom! It isn’t what church, it’s whom. It’s Christ there, if you meet Him there, if He’s exalted there. But you say, “I can’t feel His presence and I really want to. I don’t seem to reach Him,” you say, “but I want to.” Bishop Simpson once said, “Reach up as far as you can and God will reach down the rest of the way.” Oh, isn’t that true!
He says, “Seek me and ye shall find me” (Jeremiah 29:13). You read His Word and call on Him. He says, “Call upon me and I will answer thee” (Jeremiah 33:3). I know that this is true, because out of deep darkness once I called, and He answered. He never turns away a seeking soul.
So I want to read just a wee bit of a poem here, that’s so precious to my heart. It comes from an old hymn.
In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side!
Earthly cares can never vex me, neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go.
When my soul is faint and thirsty, ‘neath the shadow of His wing,
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet …
That’s a conversation with Jesus that I’m talking about.
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet
If I tried, I could not utter what He says when thus we meet.
Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs, and fears;
Oh, how patiently He listens! And my drooping soul He cheers:
Do you think He ne’er reproves me? What a false Friend He would be,
If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see.
Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow: this shall then be your reward;
And where’er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,
You will bear the shining image of the Master in your face!
"In the Secret of His Presence," by Ellen L. Goreh (1883)
And so it’s in the secret of His presence that your soul shall delight to hide, and that secret conversation with the living Christ will be the joy of your life.
I wish I could assure you that He never turns away a seeking soul. Someone listening who has never met Jesus Christ might say, “Well, give me something to lay hold of, something concrete, something I can see, and I’ll believe on Jesus.” He answers that cry with these words: “Only believe” (Mark 5:36; Luke 8:50). If you will, you will quickly find something to lay hold of, and you’ll see also it’s wonderfully concrete and real.
The Lord Jesus Christ must first be received by faith; then will come the glorious assurance of salvation. But it will be forever hidden to you unless you reach out toward Him and believe that He is what He says He is. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” it says in Hebrews 11:6. To believe is to see! And I want to show you, beloved, that He will reveal Himself.
The quickest, surest way to into the sweet fellowship of God is just to confess you’re a sinner and call upon Him for mercy, accept His terms for salvation, and then your rebellious, unbelieving nature will be empowered to recognize the claims of Jesus Christ and take God at His Word. God’s Word says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s Romans 5:1. And “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).
You want to really live? You say you want life in abundance? God’s Word says He came that ye might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Without Him, you’re forfeiting the only real and lasting joy there is in this old sin-cursed world, and added to this He gives you eternal life. Won’t you give Him a chance to show you what He can do? Won’t you commit your all to Him and let Him make out of all the frustrations and failures a life of victory and satisfaction?
Give God a chance, won’t you? God bless you indeed. If you will, what a change there will be in your life! God bless you. He’s still on the throne and prayer does really change things.