Mike Bickle

B. Childress
Feb 12 2010 08:00AM

For most of us, life presents dozens of options for career, lifestyle, passions, and hobbies.  In our pursuit of pleasure
and meaning we run here and there, trying one job or recreational activity after another, collecting experiences but
never devoting ourselves to one direction.  Christians do this in their spiritual lives and ministries as well, bouncing from
one teaching or church to another, trying on ministries as they try on clothes.  But today, the call of God to the church is
to dismiss ourselves from chasing hither and thither and to cultivate a heart of unwavering devotion.  He wants us to
love Him, first and foremost, with all of our hearts.  He wants us to be a people of one thing.

As you gaze upon the heart of God and begin to grasp that His emotions toward you are of gladness and burning
passion for intimacy, nothing in the world will suffice.  What you enjoy and desire narrows down to one thing.  You begin
to want to pour out your life in extravagant devotion upon the feet of Jesus.  When Your heart is conquered by the One
who is fascinating, then no other captivation will satisfy.  You will refuse to dwell anywhere but in this position of waiting
on Him.  You will pursue Him alone, not allowing yourself to be distracted by anything less.  Your hunger will be fixed on
a single source.  There will be no going back to what used to bring satisfaction.  Secondary pleasures will fade away.

Asking the Right Questions

This way of living, while exhilarating, disturbs and provokes people who are still living for many things.  They ask, "Why
waste your time on that?  Why this extreme devotion?  What's going on here?  You have to diversify, be more well-
rounded, cultivate other interests.  You're putting all your eggs in one basket."  They don't understand the
extravagance of being single-mindedly His.  They feel blamed because their lifestyle is not focused on one thing.  They
might conclude that the person of one thing is mentally "off" or caught up in religious fanaticism, or that he or she has
gone too far and will eventually swing back to normal.

But they misunderstand what's on the heart of God.  The first commandment, the primary thing with which God is
concerned is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God  with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matthew
22:37).  That is precisely what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church worldwide.  He is cultivating hearts that are
unreserved.  He is promoting the kind of single-minded devotion the world is frightened of.  Many in the church will reject
it, and many will embrace it, but when the transformation is complete we will no longer ask, "What is the minimum that is
required of me?  What can I get by with?"  Rather, we will ask, "What is the very most I can give?  I want to give it all!"  
When you discover the pleasure of living for one thing, you become ruined for anything less.

A Costly Offering

The Bible gives compelling illustrations of extravagant devotion we can use as models for becoming people of one
thing.  The first picture is in II Samuel 23 when three of David's mighty men performed an amazing feat on behalf of their

    "And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the
    troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.  And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the
    Philistines was then in Bethlehem.  And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of
    the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!"  

At this time, David had been anointed king, but he was not king yet.  Jealous King Saul was chasing him from cave to
cave.  In fleeing this evil pursuit, David wandered in the wilderness for about seven years as approximately three
thousand men searched for him to kill him.  About six hundred men joined David, and they made the cave of Adullum
their main headquarters.  The Philistines were defeating the nation of Israel and had just captured David's hometown,
Bethlehem.  It was probably late one night, and David was likely bemoaning the fact that the Philistines were moving in
and taking so much of the land.  I can imagine him and his men around the fire, the firelight and shadows dancing
across their faces, and David saying with longing, "Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of
Bethlehem, which is by the gate!"

Some of the mighty warriors of David's army were at the front of the cave, no doubt guarding it from attack.  Hearing
David's longing, they got together and said, "Let's go get him some of that water."  They knew it might cost them their
lives, but they loved David with extravagance, and it thrilled their hearts to answer his request.  They were a picture of
the passionate loyalty we should have to Christ Jesus.  They went far beyond the call of duty to answer the longing in
their king's heart.

Three of David's mighty men gathered their swords and spears and went out.  Undoubtedly as they approached the
Philistine front line, they saw hundreds of enemy soldiers.  Perhaps they were afraid for a moment, but that fear was
overcome by the anticipation of that moment when they would bring their king what he desired, and so these mighty
men broke through the Philistine camp and went all the way through the front line.  I picture them working their way to
the well and fighting for every inch of ground.  Two of them probably fought while one scooped up the water.  Once they
retrieved it, they started back through the enemy line toward the cave of  Adullum.  I imagine them hissing to each other,
"Don't spill that water, whatever you do!  It's precious stuff."  When they got back to the cave, they presented the water
to David and proudly proclaimed, "We have the very water from the well of Bethlehem."

David's eyes probably grew wide.  I can imagine the appreciation, the thirst, the amazement he was feeling.  But he
would not drink the water he so desired because of it preciousness.  He said, "Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should
do this!  Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" (verse 17).  He recognized that the water
could have cost his men everything.  He might have looked them square in the eye and said, "Your children could have
been orphans.  Your wives could have been widowed.  You could have lost everything to get me this water.  It's too holy
for a man to drink because it represents your entire life."  So David took the water and went before the Lord.  The water
was one of the most holy gifts that had ever been given to him, and he poured it out to the Lord and worshiped God with
words that probably expressed this idea: "Father, only You are worthy of this water."

Of all the stories that could have been told of David and his men, this story became famous as one of the most
extravagant acts of devotion toward the king.  There were 1.3 million soldiers in David's army at the peak of his military
career (II Samuel 24:9).  From that number, God highlighted only three examples of exceptional valor and commitment
to David.  It's important to pay attention to them.  For us, this becomes a picture of devotion to King Jesus.  It's a pattern
for becoming people of one thing, with hearts after God's.

What made those men risk their lives for a few drinks of water?  Was it boredom?  Bluster?  Misplaced bravery?  Desire
for fame?  Desire for promotion?  Did they want a pay raise from David or an easier schedule or some time off to spend
with their families?  I don't think so.  I believe the courage of David's mighty men came from one thing: their absolute, to-
the-death devotion to him.  Their boldness and perseverance that spurred them to unusual feats of bravery sprang
from sold-out commitment to David, representing for us the Lord Jesus.  I imagine them answering to David for sneaking
off to get the water.  I can almost hear them say, "David, we didn't care about losing our lives.  Don't you see?  We lost
our lives when we joined you."

David was a symbol of their salvation.  When these mighty men came to him, they were distressed, discontented, and in
debt, and David became their captain.  The crowd that gathered to him in the cave of Adullum was the most motley
youth group in the history of Israel.  David redeemed them from worthless lives.  When they had nothing to live for, he
gave them a vision and a cause.  He trained them and made them an army and a family.  He shared his heart with them,
and their hearts were ennobled and encouraged.  They saw the beauty of who David was, his godliness, and the favor
of God upon him.  They became men of one thing, willing to live courageously because of their burning love for him.  
This illustrates exactly the kind of abandonment God wants us to give to Christ Jesus.

Beloved, we will have the courage to do extravagant acts of valor only when our hearts are enraptured by our God.  
The Lord desires people who go beyond the minimum requirements.  He searches for lives of lavish commitment.  Our
goal should be to stand before Him on the last day and offer ourselves to Him just as these three men offered the water
to David at the expense of their lives.  Paul said in I Corinthians 15:28 that on the last day Jesus will gather all these
sweet things called the devotion of His people and place it at His Father's feet.  He will kneel down and offer Himself to
His Father so that His Father will be all in all.  In that moment we will be Jesus's gift back to His Father.  We will be the
sweet water He offers.  This prophetic picture will be complete.  He will take us and pour us out to God the Father, just
as David poured out the water from the well of Bethlehem.

That is the bride's heart.  It seeks to give more to the Bridegroom - more time, more money, and more passion.  We
want to do whatever He will empower the human heart to do.  Things we didn't think we could accomplish come into the
realm of possibility when the heart is willing.  We must ask the Lord how deep we can go into the very center of
extravagance.  We must pursue Him and ask permission to do acts of great valor and courage for Him.  That is the spirit
of the bride,  and it resided in the hearts of David's mighty men.  They heard the whisper of their king's desires, and
they risked their lives to bring him his heart's desire.

For the Prize of Knowing Him

    "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss
    for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and
    do count them but dung, that I may win Christ...That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the
    fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"  Philippians 3:7-8, 10

Our second illustration of being people of one thing comes from Philippians 3, where Paul gave an autobiographical
look at what motivated him.  He sometimes gave a sentence here and there in his other writings, but I don't know any
place where he shared his deepest heart so richly.  Without apology, Paul pointed us to the necessity of fierce
abandonment for the sake of one thing.  He confirmed that stunning and fascinating things happen when new
discoveries of the God-Man touch our spirit.  Verse 8 says, "Oh the excellencies of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for
whom I have suffered the loss of all things!  I count all of these losses as rubbish that I may experience Him" (author's
paraphrase).  Paul was not saying that he suffered these things to earn Jesus's approval, but that in forsaking them, he
removed what hindered his ability to experience Jesus to the fullest possible degree.  He purposely narrowed his
options.  He willingly became a man of one thing.

    1.  "I want to know Him," speaking of sharing intimacy with Jesus

    2.  "I want to know the power of His resurrection," speaking of the ability to operate in the anointing

    3.  "I want to know the fellowship of His suffering," portraying his desire to bear the inevitable counterattack of
    suffering and persecution.

Paul understood the paradox that even as the anointing prepares and equips the heart for suffering, it also triggers the
counterattack that brings suffering.  It starts a chain reaction in the kingdom of darkness.  When we operate in new
levels of the anointing and plunder Satan's kingdom we touch new dimensions of counterattack.  Paul actually gloried in
the privilege of having intimacy with Jesus in suffering, which is a necessary dimension of the kingdom of God.

In verse 12, Paul revealed the inner activity of his soul: "I press on."  In other words, he committed himself to
experiencing the three things he spoke of in verse 10. He said, "I want to lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by
God."  The Lord Jesus laid hold of each one of us for a very specific reason.  God had something in mind for you when
you were born and when you were born again.  You were "laid hold of by God," hand picked by Him in His creative
genius and created with certain passions.  But it is so common in the kingdom of God today for people to never lay hold
of the thing for which they were born and to never enter into the destiny God prepared for them.  This is because we
are not yet a people of one thing.  We are not people after His heart.  We are trying to do business as usual.  We don't
want fellow Christians to think we're strange; we don't want discomfort.  We want to live as everybody else lives.  But
we're in danger of not laying hold of what God has for us in this hour of history.  

Paul went on to say that he didn't consider himself to have already attained to this.  He didn't believe he had fully
apprehended the fullness of what he was created for.  Yet he committed himself to one thing: to forget the things that
were behind him and press on to what was ahead.  Paul was a single-minded man, much as David was.  He reached
forward to take hold of knowing Christ, of experiencing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.  
He determined in his heart to spend his entire life doing this.  He went out of his way to remove any known hindrances to
his destiny in God.

Beloved, we will not accidentally lay hold of the highest things God has called us to.  We must press into them, knowing
that the devil will press back.  We must push against our resisting flesh.  We must fight as believers and unbelievers
alike come against us.  We must lay hold of the prize, and the only way to accomplish that is by being individuals and
churches of extravagant devotion to Jesus.  No other kind of devotion will survive the onslaught of the enemy.

I believe that the "prize" Paul referenced in verse 14 was the experience of intimacy and power spoken of in verse 10.  
He wanted the dimension of power and fellowship that was found only in suffering for the gospel.  His prize was not just
eternal, but it was also meant to be experienced in some measure on Earth.  Daniel prophesied about this same reality,
saying, "The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits...Yet for many days they shall fall
by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering" (Daniel 11:32-33).  Daniel spoke of two different time periods in this
prophecy.  First was the time of Antiochus in 175-167 B.C., which was a type of persecution just before the second
coming of Jesus.  The second time frame is at the end of the age.  This tells us the people of God will know their God,
will have a mighty spirit, and will do great exploits.  They will also know suffering and will fall by the sword and flame as
martyrs.  Notice that Daniel described the same three things Paul described, these three dimensions of being a people
of one thing:

    1.  Knowing God.

    2.  Operating in the anointing.

    3.  Being equipped to fellowship with Him in suffering.

In this pursuit, we must not apologize for our intensity.  We must not accept some idea of "balance" that is not the
balance of the Spirit, though it might be the balance of religious man.  We want to be balanced Jesus-style, so that God
says on the last day, "You had a fiery heart.  You bore the sufferings.  You learned to operate in the anointing.  You
knew how to worship in the Spirit.  You were a person of one thing, after My own heart."  That is balance from God's
point of view.

What's the point of being a person of one thing?  What do we gain?  God Himself!  God revealed Himself as the primary
reward of the human heart in Genesis 15:1 when He stood before Abraham and said, "Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am
your shield, your exceedingly great reward."  Those words amaze me.  God reveals Himself as our prize.  He is the
ultimate satisfaction of our hearts.  He gives us secondary rewards, too, and I love them as well.  There's the anointing
to touch the ends of the earth.  There's health, wealth, influence, anointed ministry, and favor in significant
relationships.  God gave all of these to Abraham and promised them to us.  But they are all secondary.  God Himself
was the great reward surpassing all others.  He is the prize of the ages.

God demonstrated this truth again with the story of Levi.

    "At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before
    the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless his name, unto this day.  Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance
    with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him."   Deuteronomy 10:

In this passage, the phrase "to bear the ark of the covenant" symbolized receiving the presence of God.  God
separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark, or to experience the presence of the Lord.  He set them apart to stand
before Him and bless the name of God.  That was their anointing.  Because of this unique blessing, Levi and his
brothers received no portion of the land and no inheritance when the other tribes of Israel received their portion.  Why?  
Because the Lord Himself was Levi's inheritance.  "The LORD is their inheritance" (Deuteronomy 18:2).  God set this
tribe apart to receive the greatest blessing:  the reward and the inheritance of Himself.  That's a picture of true intimacy
with God, when we don't need anything else but Him to make our lives complete.

Beloved, this prize will not automatically fall at our feet.  There is a pressing in.  We reach for the one thing, the
exceedingly great reward.  There is a forgetting of what came before, both success and failure.  In Philippians 3:13 Paul
said, "One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind."  Part of our offering to the Lord is forgetting our
dedication and personal sacrifice.  Paul counted them as nothing.  We do not stand before the Lord and calculate how
much we have given Him in prayer, fasting, finances, and persecution.  We forget all that because our glory is not found
in anything we can give.  Our glory is in being loved by Him and in the anointing to love Him.  That alone gives us value.  
When we become preoccupied with our sacrifice, religious pride steals in, and our motives become corrupt.

We also should forget our accomplishments.  God doesn't look at spiritual resumés.  The great revivals we lead, the
Bible schools we started, the ministries we ran - these are not our offering.  No matter how many people we lead to the
Lord or how many sermons we preach or how many people grow to spiritual maturity under our leadership, these mean
nothing when compared to the privilege of knowing Christ.  We should discount them, let them go.  God will reckon them
in proper balance when we get to heaven, but for us there is nothing so valuable as simply knowing God.

For this reason we should also let our failures go.  These can distract us more than our accomplishments.  Paul tells us
to forget all these things and press in to God's heart with a spiritual violence, reaching toward the prize with all the
energy we have.  That's how we want to live.  We want to be a people of one thing, forgetting what is behind and
pressing to what is ahead.  That's how we become men and women after God's own heart.  One of the greatest
examples of a lifestyle of one thing is Mary of Bethany.  She's one of my favorite people in the Gospels.


AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART, by Mike Bickle, Copyright 2009, Charisma House.