Daily Devotional

Not Publicly, But in Secret

by Simon Whitton

8 You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come."
9 Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.
11 Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, "Where is that man?"
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him.  Some said, "He is a good man." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people."
13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.
14 Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.

John 7:8-14 (NIV)

The Lord did not yet want to appear publicly, but He was there in secret.  He may have anonymously wandered among the crowds for three of the seven days of the feast.  Meanwhile people were quietly talking about Him, some saying good things, some bad.  What kept the people from speaking openly was their fear of men, not their fear of God.

We often go about our lives as if God isn't there seeing all that we do and listening to everything we say.  We are careful to limit how we act and what we say when we think the wrong people may see or hear; but shouldn't we be more cautious because the Lord is watching and listening to us?  Perhaps, like the Jews at the feast, we are watching for Him and asking where He is, oblivious to the fact that He is right with us.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered
and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13(NIV)

This scripture from the book of Hebrews may give us cause for concern.  The Lord hears every private conversation, the gossip, criticism, inappropriate remarks and the lies.  He sees us in those moments when we think no one is looking. We may have thought the wrongdoing was a secret, but it's all known by the Lord.

On the positive side, your concern is evidence of your belief that God is present with you.  He sees the kind things you do for others that no one seems to notice. He sees your perseverance.  He hears those gracious words of yours, and He hears your private prayers when you sometimes wonder if God is listening.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father,
who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:3-6(NIV)

When you pray alone in secret, it is a place of intimacy between you and the Lord.  Although you don't see Him, He is right there with you. You don't have to go to a big meeting with a well-known speaker to encounter God.  In the Bible many of the most remarkable encounters with the Lord took place while the person was 'alone'.

Spend some private time in prayer, and confess those things you thought no one knew about; and where you've been more fearful of people learning your secrets than God.  Thank Him that He is there with you as you struggle, and He hears every word of your prayers.  Ask the Lord to increase your awareness that His presence is constantly with you.

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