It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
David Cerullo is the Chairman and CEO of Inspiration Ministries encompassing the INSP Television Network, dedicated to impacting people for Christ worldwide through media. David is a unique combination of Christian minister and corporate businessman. The son of international evangelist Morris Cerullo, David took a less traditional approach to ministry, graduating from Oral Roberts University with a degree in business administration and management. He and his wife, Barbara, have been married for more than 40 years, have two adult children and five grandchildren. Together they serve as hosts of the international television outreach program, Inspiration Today! David is also the author of 11 books.
Visit the author’s website.
PursuingPresence_Comp Thousands of years ago, God imbedded mysteries within the pattern of Moses’ wilderness tabernacle. But, just as earthly treasures must be searched for and mined, the spiritual riches God has buried in His Word must be searched for with diligence. Pursing His Presence serves as a treasure map with David Cerullo as guide for those who seek ever-deepening intimacy with God and are willing to embark on a life-changing path. Readers will explore ancient explore ancient scriptural truths unveiling the pathway into God’s awesome presence and understand as never before the riches hidden within the tabernacle.
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
My own journey into a relationship of intimacy with the Lord began many years ago with a growing cry in my heart. I was sitting in a hotel room, reading my Bible, in preparation for the message I was to deliver at a conference that evening. I came across this verse written by the apostle Paul: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).
I was blown away when I read those words. I thought, Paul, how could you possibly say this? You wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, and you’re talking about “wanting” to know God? If you felt as though you didn’t know God, who else can possibly know Him?
Then the realization dawned on me that all of us are on a journey into the heart of God, and that none of us will arrive at the end of this pilgrimage until we’re in heaven. None of us has reached the place of intimacy with God that He desires us to achieve. Paul was simply saying that he recognized he wasn’t yet where God was calling him to be in his relationship with Him, but that he was pressing upward, toward the call of God in Christ Jesus.
I was desperately hungry to know God like this, and so I prayed, “Lord, I want to know You. I don’t just want to know about You; I want to know You.”
The Lord then spoke to my spirit, saying, David, do you want to go to that next level with Me—beyond acquaintance, beyond friendship, beyond knowing about Me? Are you truly longing for a deeper level of relationship?
I responded, “Yes, Lord, I truly want an intimate relationship with You.”
He replied, David, if you really want to get to know Me, why aren’t you spending more time with Me?
Now, let me be honest with you. When God asked me this, it hurt—a lot. I had been spending time with the Lord, but He was gently and firmly convicting me that I usually limited my time with Him because of my overcrowded schedule.
He went on, We don’t talk very much. You don’t spend much time in My presence. If you truly want to know Me, you’re going to need to spend more time with Me.
I thought about this for a while. There are a lot of ways we can get to know someone. Often, when we meet someone for the first time, we’ve already heard about that person; we just don’t really know him or her. The only way we get to know others is by spending time with them.
All of us have different kinds of relationships on different levels with different people.
- There are people we’ve heard about but will never know.
- There are people we’ve met but will never really get to know, because we don’t invest in our relationship by spending time with them.
- There are people we spend more time with and get to know a little bit.
- And then there are those with whom we spend a lot of time, those who eventually become our closest, most intimate friends.
The more time we invest in our relationship with someone, the more we know that person, and the closer we become. This is why the first thing the Lord said to me when I prayed for a more intimate relationship with Him was, If you want to truly know Me, spend time with Me.
And so I did.
Later that morning, I went down to the hotel restaurant to get some breakfast. As I was sitting there drinking my coffee and considering what God had said about how I needed to spend more time with Him, I sensed He was about to speak to my spirit again. I fished inside my pocket for an envelope and a pen, to write down whatever He was about to tell me.
David, if you truly want to know Me, there are some steps you’re going to have to take in order to move into a deeper level of relationship with Me.
“Yes, Lord,” I said, “I’ll take these steps. Whatever they are, I’ll take them.” And I quickly scrawled on the envelope the five words the Lord spoke to me:
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3–5)
When we ask Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, we are immediately washed clean by His blood. Our sins are forgiven, and His righteousness becomes our righteousness: “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
However, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He told them to pray these words as part of their daily prayer: “And forgive us our debts [“sins” tlb], as we also have forgiven our debtors [“those who have sinned against us” tlb]” (Matthew 6:12). Although our sin nature is cleansed when we invite Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, we must repent of our sins on a daily basis, as He instructed us to do.
What is sin, exactly? The Greek word for sin is hamartia, which means “to miss the mark.” Sin is anything we do, or fail to do, that causes us to “miss the mark” of God’s standard of holiness. We all “miss the mark” repeatedly throughout the day!
This is why Jesus taught us to ask God daily to forgive our sins. Thoughts that shouldn’t have been entertained, words that shouldn’t have been spoken, actions we should or should not have taken—all these failings occur in our lives on a daily basis. If we are to have “clean hands and a pure heart,” which is a qualification for spending time in intimate communion with the Lord, we must repent daily of our sins.
The word repent comes from the Greek word metaneo, and it means “to think differently.” True repentance requires changing your mind about your sin, and then changing your thinking and your behavior. Refusing or avoiding repentance actually prevents us from having an intimate relationship with the Lord.
Psalm 66:18 reminds us, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear,” and Isaiah 59:2 sobers us with this warning: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
Now, please understand, I’m not saying that God requires us to be perfect. He doesn’t. He knows we’re weak and vulnerable to temptation. What I am saying is that God has provided us with an escape from His judgment for our sin: repentance based on faith in Jesus Christ alone, initially, when we’re forgiven for our sin nature, once and for all, and then for the sins we daily commit that can block us from knowing Him more intimately.
Genuine repentance before God is a sign of our brokenness and our desperation for Him. A good example of a prayer of repentance is found in Psalm 51:
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.(Psalm 51:1–2, 17)
God is so glad when we humble ourselves before Him and repent of our sins. He lovingly forgives us and welcomes us into His presence when we ask for His power to strengthen and help us when we “miss the mark.”
I want to pause here for a moment and offer you the opportunity to repent before God and invite Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, if you have never done so.
If you’re reading this book, I’m assuming it’s because you’re hungry for an intimate relationship with God. However, until Jesus is the Lord of your life, you will never be able to experience intimacy with God. Why? Because God is holy, and the only way to come into His presence is to be made holy once and for all by the blood of the One who never sinned—Jesus Christ.
Only by accepting that His death on the cross is the one true way leading to God do we “have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19).
But the good news is that you don’t have to wait any longer! You can repent of your sinful nature right now and immediately have the awesome right to an intimate relationship with God, who loves you with an everlasting love that will never fail! All you have to do is…
1. Acknowledge you’re a sinner.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
2. Confess your sins.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
3. Repent (“change your mind”) regarding your sins.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)
4. Believe that Jesus is God’s Son, who lived a sinless life yet chose to die a sinner’s death on the cross to save you from your sins.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9–10)
5. Pray this simple prayer:
If you just prayed this prayer, then welcome to the family of God! Right now, the angels in heaven are rejoicing over you (see Luke 15:10), and I’m rejoicing over you, too!
In the following days, weeks, and months, you will sense the Lord drawing you into an increasingly intimate relationship. Talk to Him. Read His Word. Fellowship with other believers. Spend time with Him every day. He loves you so much and wants to be with you. Keep reading this book to discover powerful treasures that will help you draw closer and closer to Him.
Remember, the daily confession of our sins is a powerful step we can take in our journey toward intimacy with God. As we come before Him, washed and cleansed by Jesus’ blood and the mercy of God’s forgiveness, we’re ready to take the next step that will bring us further into His presence.
- Think about a person with whom you have had a close, loving, intimate relationship. What made this relationship special and different from other relationships in your life?
- Compared to the relationship you just described, how would you like your relationship with the Lord to be the same or different?
- Consider the time when your relationship with the Lord first began. How has it changed, strengthened, or weakened since then?
- Spend some time with the Lord and ask Him to reveal areas of your life where you are “missing the mark.” When He reveals any sin, simply repent. Tell Him you have “changed your mind” and that, with His courage, grace, and strength, you also will change your thinking and your behavior.