Presence, Grace, & Power

These three words keep ringing in my heart. I hear them echo in my ears as they sing from my lips. Lord we need your presence, we need your grace and power. Lord we need to seek your face, we need a fresh encounter…

Sometimes I think we get lost in a world of available teaching, good sermons, admonition on how we should be living to be a better, more successful Christian. We seek out inspirational messages  on how to position ourselves for blessing. We love hearing lessons that spur us on to do the work of the ministry. We learn about giving, tithing, renewing the mind and spiritual warfare. These are all super, great, and necessary. Paul taught them as did the other books written by men of God.

Jesus taught these things himself. But everything He taught was for one purpose, to reveal the Father. Everything. It all revealed the heart of the Father. Jesus called Peter “blessed” when Peter declared Jesus to be the Son of the Living God. Why? Because he had his first encounter with the Father! He said man did not reveal this truth to you, but my Father in heaven! It could have read “Way to go Pete!! You just heard my Dad!! I’m going build my church on men who know how to encounter my Father, and nothing can take that away from you, the gates of hell will not prevail against the reality that My Father wants to reveal himself as YOUR Father too!

Do you realize that after Peter encountered Father intimately, and personally, the keys of the kingdom were given to him? Seriously, the power to bind and loose; understanding of God as Father is some serious stuff!

So in our sermons, in our studies, in our online teachings we are so devoted to, are we being drawn into the divine intimacy of God as Father, creator of our hearts, lover of our souls. Talk to me all day about how to live a Christian life, and I’ll take a book load of great notes. But tell me of the love of the Father, inspire me by letting me hear the hunger in your voice for his presence in your own life and  I will desire it more for mine as well. Challenge me to get into the secret place of God’s heart. Rally me for the affection of God’s love as my Father.

This is what the body needs. To be taught to get alone, get quiet, and seek his face, FOR OURSELVES!  Good teaching is good, but only infants should be getting all their food hand fed. A mature heart will not be satisfied until it learns from the Holy Spirit, not just from the latest most popular online video. Remember Peter was blessed when he had his own personal encounter with the Father….

Reveal Jesus

Paul said in Galatians 1 that God was pleased to reveal His Son in him, so that he might preach the gospel. What does that look like for today, to have Jesus revealed in us? Is He revealed by our bumper stickers, our Jesus jersey and our jewelry of crosses and fish? I don’t think so. I think it looks like the guy stuck in a long line of irritated customers waiting, who has the eyes of Jesus and can see the hurting heart of the cashier rather than the 6 angry people behind or in front of him. I see someone who doesn’t walk past the homeless guy on the street, and who does more than just  the good deed of giving that extra $5.00… I see the guy willing to sit down in the dirt and listen to the story of this man’s life, giving and recognizing his value and worth, rather than letting life make him invisible.

I believe we often pray “God, reveal yourself to me” when we should be praying “God, reveal your Son IN ME.” We should be crying out for Jesus to be revealed in us so that we too, can preach a gospel that goes beyond words. We should be on our knees or on our faces, until we see the Son being revealed in us, and in our churches.

Oh Papa, let this be our outcry unto you!! REVEAL YOUR SON IN US! Reveal him through our choices day to day; how we spend our time and our money, our attitudes. Reveal your Son in our sincerity, in our words and speech. Reveal Jesus in us as we go through this day so that everyone we encounter might see him!

 

Finding Jesus

I just want to ask, when you read the bible, are you just reading it, or are you “searching the scriptures”? Jesus said several times “to  him who has ears to hear, let him hear”…I think he was trying to tell us that understanding the Word of God isn’t going to just happen without setting your heart to it. I know someone who reads her bible everyday, quite faithfully it would seem, and yet never encounters Jesus within the pages. Does that describe you? When you read the bible, are you getting out of it only the surface of the things we’re suppose to be doing? Are you coming away from your private study full of insight on how to live, what to do, what not to do, yet totally missing the revealing of the love and life of Jesus in those passages? 1 Corinthians 13:2 says “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” The bible clearly tells us that Jesus and Father God are one, and God is love. So even if you read the bible and get all this knowledge about it, if you aren’t seeing Jesus in what you read, it really isn’t benefiting you at all.

God doesn’t just want us to read His Word, He wants us to encounter Jesus on every page! (yes, even books like Numbers can reveal the heart of God’s love if you are really looking for it!) The Word of God is the essence of Jesus. If all you are looking for within it’s pages is the method on how to live, the do’s and don’ts, the how to and how not to’s, then be certain, that is what you are going to find. And if you can follow through with everything you read, you will surely reap the rewards of those teachings. But you still may totally miss Jesus, the love of God, and knowing him according to is love, not just his commands.

Every time we open our bible we should be encountering Jesus and the love of God. Every time. If your understanding of the purpose of the Word of God is just that it is to teach us how to live, you have a very narrow, works oriented view of the Bible, and God wants so much more for you than that. It’s more than telling us how to live, it’s about revealing to us our Father’s heart, the essence of love itself, the reality of Jesus Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit. If you only see the do’s and don’ts, you’ll never even see the heart of the Father when you read verse after verse of who begot who, and how many were in each tribe and family and clan. You’ll either blaze by those verses or read them just to check off your “through the bible in a year” chapter finished box, totally missing the heart of God as He is trying to show you how no one is forgotten, each one, from lowest to highest is important, valued, remembered. You’ll totally miss the Father whispering how great his love is if you don’t read his word expecting to find it.

The next time you open up the scriptures, ask Holy Spirit to reveal more than just how to live. Ask Him to reveal Jesus in the words you read, ask him to reveal the love of God and the heart of our Father. Ask yourself, did what I just read only make me a better Christian, or did it cause me to fall more in love with Jesus? Don’t stop reading until what you read draws you closer to his heart. And don’t feel like that means hours upon hours of endless reading. It’s not about how much you get into the Word inasmuch as it is how much the Word gets into you! Sometimes it may take 2 chapters, sometimes it only takes 2 verses. But when the Holy Spirit pricks your heart, don’t just blaze by it, stop, meditate, inquire of the Holy Spirit to reveal the deeper truth, the hidden treasure of what he’s speaking. Stop worrying about checking of your daily reading box, and get to know Jesus. Don’t just read about what Jesus did, learn about who Jesus is, because when you seek him, you will find him.

 

Redeemed from an empty life

1 Peter 1:13 admonishes us saying, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action…” To understand the context of “therefore” we have to back up a few verses to get a better idea of what the apostle meant. The the previous verses, Peter speaks of the revealing of the new birth into a living hope through Christ Jesus that had, until that point in time, been hidden. The revealing of the salvation of our souls through Jesus Christ had finally been made known. Peter says that the prophets who spoke of things to come, and even the angels themselves longed to understand the truth that has now been revealed to us.

It is for this reason the apostle says “Therefore, prepare your minds for action.” …but what action? I think what Peter is trying to say is, do something with this new understanding! Understand we are responsible with what we’ve been entrusted with. Before the cross, all of history longed to understand what before was only revealed to a handful of prophets, and even they did not fully understand what they were pointing to. But we have this truth. We need to prepare our minds, to be ready to share the hope that we have. This hope, Peter says, is a “Living hope”, not some hope that is unrealized. We are to be ready to offer people a living hope. Salvation belongs to us. Redemption from a life that is empty is given only through Jesus Christ.

A common cry of every human heart is to find meaning in their life. To have a purpose. To make a difference; people need to know their life matters, they count. Jesus redeems us from what 1 Peter 1:18 refers to as “an empty way of life”. People live empty lives when they don’t realize their own value. The world defines our value by the car we drive, the house we live in, the clothes we wear. We esteem the beautiful, the handsome, the fit, and the talented. We attribute value with success. We devalue the poor, the elderly, the sick. God looks at NONE of those things. 1 Peter 1:18 says we were not redeemed with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus. By this, he defines our value. Not according to who we are, but according to what was given to purchase our lives back from death, and can now enter into a life full of meaning and value!

So let us who know the hope of our calling be prepared for action. Let us be prepared to share the truth we know, that God loves each person, every heart, every soul, so much that he gave his son. God’s love gives us our value, our purpose, our reason for being. In a world that wonders what’s the point, that is trying everything it can think of to fill the void inside, let us be prepared to offer living hope, the truth of the reality of Jesus.

 

Notes On Private Worship

We are called to worship God in Spirit and in truth, at all times, with our whole heart. The scriptures tell us to sing and make music unto the Lord, but worship at it’s core is more than just a song, it’s a attitude, or better said, a position of the heart before God. So how do we enter into private worship times, if it’s not all about singing a song to him? If you are feeling dry in your private times and just need to prime the pump of your heart, try these seven areas of focus.

  1. Encourage Your Heart – Encourage your heart to seek his face, regardless of your situation or circumstance, and often in spite of it. Don’t rely on “feeling like seeking him” because everything is going well. Tell yourself, and let the enemy hear you say it, that you will seek the Lord while he may be found!
  2. Focus Your Thoughts – Focus your mind on His great love, His kindness, His faithfulness. There’s a time to present your requests unto God, but stir your faith up first. Get your mind off of your needs, and on who He is, what He has done, and fix your mind on Jesus.
  3. Enter With Thanksgiving – Cultivate a heart of gratitude. Be thankful. Acknowledge that He is working in your life.
  4. Declare His Great Works – To declare aloud what He he already done in your life is an act of warfare against doubt, fear, and indifference.
  5. Proclaim What He Will Do – Get Proactive, and prophecy to your life the promises of God. Speak it out. Stir up your faith and encourage your heart. Activate the promises of God and stand on it.
  6. Let Adoration Flow – As your heart is stirred, pour out your love without reserve. It’s okay to get caught up in it. It’s not about emotions, but it’s okay to express them. We don’t base our relationship on an emotion, on how we “feel” about our relationship with God, we base our relationship with God on the Word, on truth. Just remember, God created us with emotions, so He does like us to have them.
  7. Listen For His Voice – When we draw near to God, remember that He’s been drawing near to us first! Listen for His Voice. He longs to speak to us, and often will meet our needs with a word before we even make our request verbal.

“POWER” or “RIGHT”?

This morning I woke up thinking about the first chapter of John. Right now I’m reading in both the MEV and the NIV. And in John 1:12 the MEV it says “He gave the power to become sons of God” while the NIV says “He gave the right to become children of God.” The difference in wording perked my curiosity so I wanting to compare the definition of the words “power” and “right”.

The word “power” pretty much simply refers to the “ability to do” a particular thing. pretty straightforward. What I read in the definition of “right” really expanded my understanding. Before I had attributed the word “right” as to mean “privilege”, because I qualified it by the statement “he gave” as if it was something we otherwise did not possess” and not only that, but only those who believed received, therefore making them “privileged” to the “right”. But in all it’s forms, the definition never mentions anything about privilege. Wow, it’s so much deeper!

The word “right” can be an adjective, adverb, noun, verb, or exclamation. The definition includes the following:
(adj) 1. morally good, justified, acceptable 2. true or correct as fact
(adv) 1. To the furthest or most complete extent or degree 2. correctly
(n) 1. that which is morally correct, just, or honorable 2. moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain or to act a certain way.
(v) 1. to restore to a normal or upright position.
(excl) 1. used to indicate agreement or acknowledgement

Okay, yeah, wow, let’s meditate on that til it soaks deep into our understanding! When we believe in his name, he restores us to our normal position, to the furthest most complete extent possible because it is a true fact that we have acknowledged, and is morally upheld in as a legally entitlement we came by in a certain way, which is justified and acceptable!

Lesson 6: the Heart of God that we should Rest

Lesson 6: The Heart of God That We Should Rest

Jeremiah 50:6
“My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have caused them to go astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill
and have forgotten their resting place.”

The resting place is not a place we just “stumble upon”. The resting place is found upon the mountain. Here, God likens his people to sheep. and in Israel, for the sheep, the resting place was upon the mountain and the way there was no picnic. It’s easy to understand why the people would so easily be turned away on the journey, and linger instead on a hillside pasture. The hillside is just right there, no traversing rocky slopes and steep cliffs. no dangers hiding in shadows  The grass was still green and the sun was shining. To go from mountain to hill is to go from God’s best to just good enough. It’s the gospel without power. It’s salvation without change. It’s exchanging the truth of pick up your cross and follow me for become a Christian and get blessed. The way to the mountain might be challenging, full of dangers and require sacrifice, but the pasture lands we will feed upon and the rest we will come into is far greater than the easy way of the hillside.

God’s heart is that we should come into the beautiful bountiful inheritance that is ours, but the road to the end of our journey takes discipline, diligence, and sacrifice. The beauty of this is that we do all of it not by our might or power, but by his Spirit! Everything we need to traverse the rocky mountain is found in the person of Jesus, administered to us by the Holy Spirit. the only thing we provide is the actual sacrifice of our selves, our striving to figure it out, our struggle to make it work. It’s God’s heart that we should be at rest.

Devotional Questions:

  1. Have I been settling for less than I read about in the word of God within my life as a Christian?
  1. Is my walk with Christ easy, yet unfulfilling, or is it challenging but full of life?
  1. Am I truly resting in the work of Jesus to live life daily, or am I pursuing a “good life” that focuses on me?
  1. Have I settled for less than what God desires for me?
  1. Am I satisfied with where I am spiritual or am I really longing for a higher ground?

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