Experiencing God

1 Corinthians 14.12 teaches since you are eager for manifestation of the Spirit seek to abound in order to strengthen the Church.

There are many in the Church who wish God and His presence were more obviously seen and felt. These people have as their objective more evidence of God in their midst presumably to encourage their faith and validate their worship.

Yet this desire, while appearing to be good on the surface, is really self-centered which is why it doesn’t happen.

These people want more of God for themselves but God wants more of His Church in the world.

Paul teaches the Corinthians, whose objective was to see the presence of God in their worship services, that if they want to see more evidence of God then increase their work for God.

We want God to come to us and bless while God wants His people to go to the world and bless the world.

The presence of God is manifested through the work of God not the worship of God. While we may feel Him in worship people will see Him through service which is the true delight of God. Certainly God enjoys the praises of His people but He takes greater delight in the labor of His people who are earnest about the business of increasing His kingdom upon the earth.

We do so little for God which is why we experience so little of God.

Until we more fully embrace His mission we will continue to experience little of His provision for God pours out His Spirit upon the lost becoming found as the Word of God is proclaimed for His Word shall not return devoid of effect.

God loves the 99 but He leaves them in the pen to seek and to save the one who is lost.

If we wish to see more of God we must join Him outside at His work.

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Fearing God

Luke 12.5 emphatically warns people to fear God.

We no longer think of fearing God for God is love and so we have softened Him into a Santa-like figure Who is only interested in kindness, goodness and love.

Yet when God the Son discusses God the Father He warns that we should fear Him for He alone has the power to cast people into eternal torment.

Most modern religions ignore hell believing at best everyone goes to heaven and at worst there really is no God so we just remain asleep after dying. Very convenient but very untrue.

Jesus clearly teaches all people will be held accountable before God for how and why we lived our lives the way we did while occupying this earth.

After commanding His disciples to fear God, Jesus lists some of the criteria God will use to judge people’s eternal destiny.

First is how readily and consistently we confessed before people that Jesus is God our Savior.

The business of God is the work of making God known throughout the world. The people of God are expected to tell others about Jesus unashamedly and without regard to personal cost.

Second, is how rich we were with our resources toward this work of God.

Jesus condemns the man who lived for his retirement years but was not rich toward God. Jesus encourages the selling of everything for the gaining of eternal reward.

Finally, Jesus commands we remain diligent working while waiting for His return to earth.

The servant found busy about the Master’s business is the person whom God will reward and welcome with joy into His heavenly kingdom.

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Walking Humbly before God

Micah 6.8 commands people to walk humbly before the Lord. Inspired by the message I heard Sunday from our Pastor who spoke on this verse and made these same points though without the 3 “S’s” I wanted to record these observations both for my own remembrance and for my children.

So what does it mean to walk humbly before God?

First it means Surrendering to the person of Jesus Christ. Every person serves a god even if that god is ourselves; the question is what god are we serving? There is only one God and He revealed Himself to us in Jesus.

The first step to walking humbly with God is acknowledging Who He is and following Him.

This leads into the second definition: Submission. After acknowledging God we must obey God if we are to live humbly before Him.

The very word ‘God,’ elicits by definition an allegiance to Him practically manifest through obedience.

The Bible is the Word of God recorded so that we might know Him and obey Him. To be submitted to God is to make daily pursuit and obedience to His Word our utmost priority.

Finally the third means for walking humbly before God is Service to God. Upon reading about Who He is and what He requires of us we then do it which ultimately leads to His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Generally the will of God is for all people everywhere to know Him, to love Him and to be like Him.

Those who walk humbly before God will engage this work of God making Jesus known and helping people become more like Jesus.

Submission, Surrender and Service the practical way we honor God by walking humbly before Him.

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Unashamed Living

1 Corinthians 9.19 observes since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all.

What keeps us from living life in such a way that pleasing God is our first priority?

Often times the answer is our fear of losing favor in the eyes of others.

From living as a humble servant to sharing our conviction that Jesus alone is the means to heaven, Christians often stay quiet and blending-in rather than raise awareness that their allegiance is to Jesus.

Jesus warned those who sought to follow Him that if any of them were ashamed of Him before men He would be ashamed of them before the angels on decision day when men receive their eternal destiny to heaven or hell.

The Apostle Paul was God’s servant, Jesus was Paul’s first love and his Lord, because of this relationship Paul was free to serve and preach to every person without concern for their response toward him.

Paul was not living to please men but God Who saved him and would hold him accountable for his life on judgment day.

When we live first to please God we will begin to live like God in Jesus, serving people, being humble, and living generously in order to win people to Jesus.

When we live to please men we remain reserved about the things of God before men but when we live to please God we live boldly for God.

Our culture reflects the poverty of Christian witness in the marketplace and the neighborhood by those who claim to be Christians but are more concerned about their neighbor’s acceptance than with God’s approval.

We must love God first and most then we will be free from worry about the opinion of men.

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The focus of our lives

1 Corinthians 7.35 commands God’s people to give notable and constant service to the Lord.

The Apostle Paul was asked a series of questions about living the Christian life in the context of the daily requirements people normally face. Whether in marriage, work or simply providing what we need to survive Paul commands we stay focused upon notable and constant service to the Lord.

Paul recognizes the difficulty of this command in marriage where meeting the needs of our spouse compete with serving God. With God’s help we must do both.

Likewise existing in the world requires spending resources but we are to use as much of those resources as possible for building God’s kingdom.

Marriage, family and work are not excuses for ignoring God or His purposes rather those responsibilities are to reflect God’s will even as we seek Him more and more for doing His will.

Our challenge is to stay focused not on the things of this world but upon the things of God. Our challenge is not to become so lost in the mundane that we forget the doing of the miraculous – the bringing about of God’s kingdom upon the earth as it is in heaven.

God has given us the Scriptures and the Church for teaching us how to live and for doing His will.

When we ignore the Scriptures and fail to serve in and through the Church we fail in the things of God becoming selfish, self-centered and greedy forfeiting our reward in heaven and some forfeit heaven altogether becoming worldly instead of godly.

Paul reminded the Corinthians that this world and its ways are passing away but the Kingdom of God is getting closer every day.

We are to live as those who belong to another place under the lordship of another King.

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Priority

Luke 5.10 promises from now on you will be catching people.

The purpose of our lives, the mission of the Church, is to partner with God for reconciling the world to Jesus the Savior.

We have become Christians in order to be Ambassadors for God, as though He were making His appeal through us, which is, ‘be reconciled to Jesus.’

As every athlete is measured by his performance, and students by their grades and every worker by their productivity; so every Christian will be rewarded for their contribution to the cause of Christ which is the salvation of the world.

Our eternal reward from God will by largely determined by our effectiveness for God while we lived upon the earth.

So many Christians are still seeking their purpose in life but they ignore the Scriptures where God defines the purpose of every life – be reconciled to Jesus and help as many others do the same.

Jesus spent the bulk of His ministry training men to become His workforce so that upon His departure His Church would appear.

This same work is the duty of every Christian leader; the training of God’s people to do the work of ministry which is the winning of people to God’s perspective and the development of these people into God’s likeness.

God has a mission for His people, an expectation of His people that those who love Him must embrace and perform.

Beginning with us then extending to our families, culminating in a partnership with other loyal followers of Jesus, is the work of reconciling the world to God in Christ; this is the daily priority of every Christian.

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Temptation

Luke 4.13 observes the devil had completed every temptation.

The bible clearly teaches that Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are yet He did not yield to these temptations and sin against His Father.

Jesus was the only person to ever live and not sin against God either in thought, word or deed.

No other person can make such a claim nor have they; not Gandhi, not Buddha, not Martin Luther King, no man has ever claimed to live a perfect life except one – the carpenter from Nazareth Who lived more than two thousand years ago, Jesus.

Jesus lived a perfect life not so that He could get to heaven; He came from heaven since He Himself was God, but so He could offer His body a sacrifice for the sin of all humanity in order that humanity could go to heaven.

This is the message of the gospel that an exchange has been made available to all people for all time in every place: God will exchange His perfect life with its consequence of pleasing God for our imperfect life with its consequence of being condemned by God.

We receive this exchange when we humble ourselves before God, admit we have disobeyed His commands and seek reconciliation with Him through Jesus the Lord.

The perfect God requires a perfect life in order to live in His perfect place, something none of us are capable of giving Him.

Yet God was not willing for all men to be condemned so He provided a means, Jesus the Savior, for people to get to heaven.

Jesus performed the work we could never do in order to give us life with Him forever but we must stop trying to get to heaven by our own works and instead humbly admit we need to receive the Savior.

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Obedience

Romans 16.26 makes the goal bringing about the obedience of faith.

The hurdle today’s church must overcome is the notion that faith is a belief in God that demands little more than mental agreement with certain doctrine.

This modern misunderstanding of the gospel has resulted in few good works for the glory of God, little transformation in the lives of God’s people and even less effort toward the work of winning the whole world into a relationship with Jesus the Christ.

The culture reflects the influence of the church for it alone is capable of being the moral thermostat of a nation.

Since we have limited faith to belief, the moral climate has grown increasingly colder toward the ways of God.

When the Apostle Paul heralded the good news of eternal life with God through Jesus the Savior he demanded an allegiance and obedience to Him that was congruent with the very words of Jesus.

Jesus said no one could be His disciple who did not deny themselves, take-up their cross and follow Him. In addition Jesus taught that those who loved Him would obey His commands.

As the half-brother of Jesus, James the Apostle noted faith without works was dead. So those who claim to have faith in Jesus must also be thoroughly engaged in the work of Jesus which is the building of God’s Kingdom upon the earth as it is in heaven.

Those who truly have faith in Jesus as their Savior obey Jesus because He is also their Lord.

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Service

Luke 1.38 records I am the servant of the Lord; let this happen to me.

Mary was able to receive God’s work for her life because she defined herself as a servant of God.

Perhaps this attitude explains why so little is done for the glory of God today: so few who call themselves Christians define themselves as servants of God.

The difficulty in seeing ourselves as servants is the cost for being a servant, it is not easy to serve God and the cost can be very high.

Mary risked death for death by stoning was the consequence for being pregnant and unmarried. She nearly lost her husband had not God encouraged her fiancé to go ahead with the marriage despite Mary’s prenuptial pregnancy. No doubt Mary was despised, slandered and ignored by the more ‘righteous’ in her village, a cost few of us would want to pay.

Great assignments usually have great costs but it is in these assignments that we find life for they prove Jesus’ words that unless we lose our lives we don’t ever find them.The soldier, the fireman and the police officer know this truth as they often risk their lives on assignment for the benefit of others.

The most rewarding and effective work for God is that which costs us the most: even our very lives.

Today we accomplish so little because we are willing to pay so little.

We want to serve God a little after serving ourselves first but this leads to little done for God and little life with God.

Jesus commanded those who would be His followers to deny themselves, take-up their cross and follow Him, then they would know life abundant – the life God intended for us to live.

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Fathering

Mark 15.21 observes he was the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Simon of Cyrene, referenced as a passer-by in the Scriptures, probably a businessman on a mission but possibly a religious man on vacation to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, was forced by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus.

This chance encounter with Jesus changed Simon’s life resulting in his eternal destiny moving from hell to heaven.

We know this because the Scripture indicates he was the father of two boys who would later become integral members of the Church.

How did these boys become committed to Jesus Christ? Undoubtedly it was through the testimony of their father whose life was so transformed that they too became lovers of Jesus.

I turned 50 yesterday and how should I or any Christian man measure the success of his life? It should be measured by that which God will also use to measure men for both rewarding him with heaven and in heaven.

Any other means of measurement seems foolish but that which God uses to measure a man.

What is that means of measurement by which God will hold all men accountable?

First is faithfulness to Him and second is faithfulness to instruct his children to likewise love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

We call God Father because that is how He wants us to relate to Him.

So too He demands all fathers to raise children to know Him and to love Him.

The measurement of our success is how well our children are loving and serving God – this is the true measure of a man.

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