Posts Tagged ‘ God’s presence ’

June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017

PSALM 70-74

Focus Verse: Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.
Psalm 73:17

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:25-28

 

Psalm 73 is one of those Bible verses that you read and wonder whether or not God really meant to put it in the Bible. Kind of like a lot of the book of Ecclesiastes. I read some of those passages thinking, “Does God realize how bad this sounds for Him? This is terrible PR!” But God isn’t worried about His reputation, so we shouldn’t be worried about defending it. He will do that if and when He sees fit…and eventually, every knee will pay Him the honor due His name.

 

I think one of the keys to this is found in this chapter of Psalms. The writer spends the first part of the chapter debating whether or not it’s even worth it to be good. So many bad people prosper doing wicked things and never seem to get punished for it, so what’s the point in trying to behave morally?

 

Then everything changes in verse 17, and this is where everything changes for us as well. The writer takes his eyes off of the wicked people and things going on around them and puts them on God. Once he steps foot into God’s presence, his perspective starts to change. Just merely stepping into the presence of God opens his eyes to everything that God is – and perhaps more importantly, everything he is not.

 

He continues in the last stanza of the psalm about how he now sees that God is everything that he needs, that he wants nothing other than God. He sees now that even if everything else falls away, God will always be there for those who trust in Him. He realizes that if he goes all in for God, that God will go all in for him and there is nothing else in this world that can top that.

 

So what’s your perspective today? Do you need to step into God’s presence and change that perspective? It’s not going to happen reading a book or listening to another sermon…GOD’S PRESENCE is the game changer. Hit His presence and you’ll see what God doesn’t need to worry about His reputation or PR.

 

It’s all in His presence!

June 20, 2017

June 20, 2017

PSALM 36-39

Focus Verse: Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:5

 

This tends to be one of the more misused Bible verses that I have come across in my time as a Christ follower. I think that it’s very easy to look at this verse as a legalistic verse, that if we follow God and do everything on the ‘Christian checklist’ then he will give in to all of our demands and requests.

 

But that’s not a good reading of the qualifier of this verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord”. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, His heart becomes our heart, His desires become our desires, His will becomes our will. It has nothing to do with doing anything. It has everything to do with relationship.

 

Is God your sole desire? Or is there something you want from Him that’s more important to you than He is? Is there a relationship that you need restored that’s more important to you than God? If so, you will never get that relationship restored enough. Is there a financial blessing that’s more important to you than God? If so, then you will never be financially secure enough.

 

Set God as the sole desire of your heart and I promise you He will give you the other secondary desires as well. What I’ve found in my own life is that it’s not even that God gives me everything I thought I wanted, it’s that He changes my heart to only want the things that He wants for me.

 

I never wanted to be a pastor…until I made God the sole desire of my heart, and then, slowly, over time, He changed my heart and called me into ministry. Now there isn’t a day that goes by that I question my decision to leave my job and follow Him. But it didn’t start with me seeking a job. It started with me seeking Him.

June 13, 2017

June 13, 2017

JOB 40-42

Focus Verse: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:5-6

 

Here it is. The difference between religion and relationship. The difference between every single world religion and the Judeo/Christian faith. We don’t serve a god who we know through rules and regulations. We don’t even serve a god who we know through the stories of others. We serve a God who calls us into a personal relationship with Himself. And until you experience that relationship, you cannot possibly know Him and come into a relationship with Him.

 

Job experiences God here in these final chapters. He moves from knowing of God and hearing about Him to knowing God and hearing directly from Him. And his first response to this interaction is to bend under the weight of the glory of God and repent. The weight of God’s glory is so heavy, there is no other choice.

 

This is why, scripturally, every time God’s glory falls, everything around Him falls away. The earth quakes, the mountains tremble, and people fall to their knees. And the physical is just a small part of it; spiritually God’s glory causes all things to fall away. Pride is destroyed at the sound of His voice, fears are stilled, sickness is wiped away and the schemes of the enemy are annihilated.

 

You cannot come to God outside of relationship. He’s simply not that kind of God. And you cannot come into a relationship with Him without experiencing His glory. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – everything is solved by the presence of God. Whatever it is that you need, don’t seek the need, seek God’s presence. He will provide the need in His presence or will make you realize that it wasn’t really a need in the first place.

 

Job goes on to receive a double portion of everything that he has lost, but make no mistake, this is not the moral of the story. How small our God would be if that was the takeaway from the book of Job; that if we make it through our suffering, God will double our blessings. The moral of the story is found right here, before Job has a single possession restored. Job suffers well so that God is glorified, and as a reward he receives God’s presence.

 

HE is our reward. His presence. Nothing more and nothing less. His presence is all that we need.

May 6, 21017

May 6, 2017

1 CHRONICLES 15-17

Focus Verse: Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
1 Chronicles 16:11

 

This is what I want on my tombstone. This is what I want people to say about me at my funeral. This is what I want people to tell others when they talk about me behind my back. “Here is a man who seeks God’s face continually.”

 

It’s more than asking God’s opinion on tough situations. It’s more than asking for Him to carry you through hard times. Seeking God’s face is deeply personal. It’s uncomfortable to look into the face of a stranger for a long time. I was just on an elevator with a stranger last night and was reminded how awkward it is to make eye contact while riding in an elevator with someone. Imagine looking into a stranger’s face continually!

 

But that’s what God wants from us. Not adherence to a set of rules, not perfect performance, not suffering for suffering’s sake, but a deeply intimate, deeply personal relationship. The kind of relationship that changes you and me. The kind of intimacy that allows God to speak hard truth and allows us to accept it as loving correction.

 

We’re not seeking after dogma. We’re not seeking theology. We are seeking the face of a real, personal God. I love good, sound theology, but it’s only a roadmap to the real thing. Because when you stare into the face of God, when He becomes that real to you, you realize that there was nothing in the soundest of theology, nothing in the surest of doctrine, that could prepare you for the real thing. He is so much higher, so much greater, so much stronger, so much holier…

 

Seek His face continually.

May 4, 2017

May 4, 2017

1 CHRONICLES 9-11

Focus Verse: So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore He killed him and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse.
1 Chronicles 10:13-14

 

When we walk out of the presence of the Lord, we no longer carry His blessing with us. Every promise that He has made to us, every good and perfect thing His will has in store for us, it’s all null and void if we aren’t following His will. Saul found this out the hard way.

 

We have to make one clear distinction here before we move on. This DOES NOT mean that you won’t go through trials. The New Testament Church knew this well. What it does mean though, is that your trials have a purpose. God has some good planned on the other side of them. If you aren’t following God, then when life sucks, that’s all there is to it. God is the only One that gives difficult season in life a purpose and a meaning.

 

Back to the bulk of today’s topic. Saul walked out on the promises of God by being disobedient to Him. Believe it or not, that isn’t what got him the boot from God’s presence. If that were the case we’d all be toast. Saul’s problem came when he continually refused to turn away from his disobedience, acknowledge he’d messed up and come back to God for forgiveness.

 

David, who took over as King of Israel after Saul, made plenty of mistakes, but he always repented and turned back to God. It’s that humble heart that God desires. It’s that trust in Him to take us back and empower us to do what we can’t on our own.

 

So the question becomes, why? Why is God always so quick to take us back when we ask for forgiveness? If you want to get real, a perfectly holy, all-powerful God who demands justice would be better off smiting us than trying to save us. At the minimum, He should have cast us out of His presence for failing to live up to our end of the deal.

 

And He did.

 

Jesus Christ took on our punishment on the cross, but the worst part had nothing to do with the physical death that He suffered. The most excruciating part of Christ’s sacrifice, the only part in the Gospel account of His crucifixion we are told that He cried out, was when God removed Jesus from His presence because of our sins.

 

THAT is the reason God is so quick to forgive us when we turn to Him. THAT is why we can be reconciled to Him. THAT is why we never have to be afraid of God turning away from us. Any trial we go through is God growing us, not God turning away from us. Because God turned away from Jesus, even though Jesus did nothing to deserve it, He will never turn away from us. His presence is with us wherever we go, Jesus made sure of that!

April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017

2 KINGS 15-17

Focus Verse: They feared the Lord and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile.
To this day they do according to the earlier customs: they do not fear the Lord, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances or the law, or the commandments which the Lord commanded the sons of Jacob, whom He named Israel;
2 Kings 17:33-34

 

The NIV translates “feared the Lord” as “worshiped the Lord”. This topic has been troubling my heart lately. We have a very wrong definition of worship in the western church. I believe the difference in translation of this verse is part of that. We like the NIV translation. We like the word worship…when it’s defined our way. We don’t like the idea of “fearing the Lord”. Perfect love casts out fear! That was the old man who had to be afraid of the Lord! That was the old covenant!

 

I just don’t know that I buy it. I don’t think we are to cower at God. To run from Him like Adam and Eve did in the Garden after they sinned. But any encounter someone has with God in the Bible starts the same way: they are terrified! When angels show up to talk to people in the Bible, the first thing out of their mouth is “Do not be afraid…” Now why would they say that if the person didn’t have some sense of fear running through them.

 

But we miss this. Especially in Pentecostal churches where we talk about wanting to see the glory of the Lord (and I happen to be thoroughly Pentecostal). We miss the fact that almost every time God’s glory comes, it doesn’t come in a calming, peaceful, serene way. His people aren’t jumping up and down, clapping their hands to the latest Hillsong power bridge (don’t get too happy traditionalists…none of them are rocking out to a rousing verse of Eagle’s Wings either). When God’s glory comes the people react in one way…they hit the floor. They drop to their knees. The earth shakes. When God comes, He comes violently! He comes in power!

 

Yes, He also comes as a still, small voice. Yes, He always ends up comforting His people and giving them a sense of peace in His presence. But when He first comes to us, there is an initial sense of fear. There is a sense of someone larger and more powerful than anything we can even comprehend coming down to our level and seeking after us. That humbles you right out of your socks. That drives you to your knees. That changes you from the inside out.

 

And that’s the other part we miss today. Our interactions with the Lord, our “revivals” as we like to call them, consist of 30-minute worship sets. Or maybe we are really “on fire for the Lord” and attend a Christian worship concert. “Look at all these people on fire for the Lord,” we scream in our facebook posts, “surely revival is here in America!” But when those people walk out of that concert, they walk out the exact same way that they came in. And that’s not revival.

 

The only reason revival changes the world is because it changes YOU first. And that will never happen when we define worship as a song set during a church service, or a night of music by a worship team. Worship is a fear of the Lord that drives you to change. It’s a deep love and respect for your Father God that demands everything you have to give Him. It is laying down your life in obedience to His Son. This is the only form of worship. This is the only way to revival.

April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017

2 SAMUEL 19-21

Focus Verse: Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah). Thus David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?”
2 Samuel 21:1-3

 

First, notice what David did when there was a problem he was up against. He didn’t beg God to stop the famine, he didn’t pray and fast seeking answers to how to stop the famine, he didn’t promise God to serve Him always or sacrifice a thousand bulls to Him if He ended this famine. What did he do? David sought God’s PRESENCE!

 

We make things way more complicated than they need to be and we massively undervalue the presence of God. I’m not necessarily saying that it’s a bad thing to pray and fast while we’re seeking answers from the Lord, but I wish we had more faith that God knows what He’s doing. If I’m being real honest, I don’t think there is any reason we need to pray for healing (yes, the Bible says that those who are sick should pray for healing), just like I don’t think we need to pray for answers to life’s tough questions, for direction, for restoration. If we would simply seek HIS PRESENCE, every answer will come with it. That’s how powerful His presence is.

 

The second part of this, notice how obedient David is, especially to something that wasn’t his mess in the first place. David very well could have, like many of us would today, turned up his nose at the Gibeonites and told them that this wasn’t his problem. “Well I didn’t cause this mess” and walk away. But that’s not what peacemakers do. They clean up messes even if those messes aren’t necessarily theirs to clean. Let’s clarify though, David was told by God what to do (after seeking His presence). Don’t run around sticking your nose in other people’s business, trying to fix their “problems” unless God has told you to do so.

 

So…let’s try it today! Don’t ask God for anything in your prayer time this morning. Just seek His presence. Sit in His presence. Soak up His presence. I bet you’ll find exactly what it is you didn’t even know you were looking for!