Monday, September 25, 2017

Acknowledge God's Presence and WORK Accordingly

2 weeks ago = Experiencing God's Presence (or NOT!)
Last week = An Ever-present Help (Holy Spirit) - He is always with you.

Summary points:  1)  He is with you whether you sense it or not.
Therefore, 2) acknowledge His Presence mentally. verbally, and walk accordingly.

Expand that to:  1) He is with you whether you sense it or not.
Therefore, 2) acknowledge His Presence and WORK accordingly.

We find this principle for certain in Scripture:
#1.  We are called to serve (we become His servant)
#2.  God has chosen to partner with us in Kingdom work.   Don't know why.  God doesn't need our help.
#3.  You can expect His Presence and His assistance (as you minister,serve).  He is with us to help.

Scripture Examples:  watch for the common promise.
Moses - Ex. 3:10-12 - "....I will be with you."
Joshua - Josh. 1:9 - you go and then I will go with you to assist you.  He's not asking you to do it on your own.
Gideon - Judges 6:14-16 - "....I will be with you."
Jeremiah - Jer. 1:4-8 - "... I am with you."
Disciples - Matt. 28:18-20 - Great Commission

All were common men (before the call)
All were called to serve  (various ways)
All were inadequate tot he task  (therefore, reluctant!)

BUT, all had the same promise - "go...... and I'll go with you."  The same thing stands for us - this didn't end with the apostles.  So, ... in all instances ... (1) God was with them, and, (2) His purpose was served.

Note the outcome.....
Success was not always immediate - ie:  Jeremiah
results were no always lasting 0 ie:  Moses, Joshua, Gideon
BUT, they always served God's Purpose(s)
Remember, we don't always see the results.

#1.  You are called to serve (a) with the gifts you have - 1 Pet. 4:10 - And let God work through your ministry
(b)  faithfully - 1 Cor. 4:2

#2.  You are inadequate to the task
#3.  He promises to be present and assist.

#4.  The final outcome is in His hands.   His purpose may not be the same as ours.
Compare:  Isa. 55:10-11 - when doing God's work, we can't always measure whether it accomplishes His purpose.

So, whether you sense His assistance or not....
#5.  Serve - Phil. 2:12-13 - this can be very wearing, frustrating, tiring

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 27:7-8, 13-14

Sunday, September 17, 2017

An Ever Present Help

Last week = Experiencing God's Presence ( or NOT!)
point:   He is ALWAYS present with you - omnipresent God, loving Father - Scripture is very clear about this.
However, you may not sense it 0 feel, experience) - it is beyond physical realm, beyond our understanding and ability

IF He is Present - In what form?  fashion?  way?
Answer = (primarily as) the Holy Spirit!!  (ParaKlete - another like me) - John 14:16-18 - means more than physical coming, but coming forever.

Is ever present!  plus within!  This presents two mysteries:
1) the Trinity - 3 persons, 1 being
2) the Indwelling - 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19 - temple of Holy Spirit in you 

His working within the believer;  
He is present to:  (Some of the things)
1)  teach and remind you - John 14:25-26
2)  guide & direct you - John 16:12-15
3)  counsel and comfort you - John 14:16-18
4)  enlighten & illuminate - close to teach but implies INSIGHT - 1 Cor. 2:9-12
5)  offer assurance - Rom. 8:16   1 John 3:24, 4:13
6)  convict (convince, persuade)  - John 16:8

On one hand He is your personal helper, personal assistant
On the other hand, He is Sovereign God! 
Point being:  you have Almighty God as your (personal) helper

3 thoughts here:  1) Psm. 139:17-18 - "thoughts of, concerning
                          2)  1 John 4:4 - "greater is He...."
                          3)  hence, truth of John 16:5-7  "better if I go"

So.......... we have scriptural description of what He does, but..........
how does He do it?  look like?  feel like?  how to identify His working/activity within me??

Scripture is NOT so clear, explicit on that!!!
Therefore, approach this with caution!
But. some suggestions:

#1.  Sometimes you just know.  On the one hand, certainty doesn't make it so.  However, lack of objective measure doesn't make it NOT So!!!
Therefore:    a)  be cautious
                    b) test the Spirits - 1 John 4:1
                    c) test them with scripture

#2.  More often you suspect (think, believe, intuition)
Chuck Swindoll referred to these as "Unidentified Inner Promptings"
Does God direct thoughts?  us conscience?
Yes!   but so does Satan!!!

Again, so........ be cautious - test with scripture, and remember this:  in scripture where "led by the Spirit" is referenced, it is always in conjunction with holy living, holy lifestyle.  "leads in paths of righteousness".

This does not mean that God is unconcerned with everyday (secular) affairs, BUT the Holy Spirit's working(s) is primarily to make you Christlike!! - (behavior)

#3.  Mostly you will not know (from experiencing).  ie:  you will not feel, sense, experience His workings)
BUT, you can be sure!!   You can know mentally!! - Rom. 8:14 - (are led), Phil. 1:6 (will continue)

On one hand, and awareness of His working(s) = marvelous thing!!
However, it's not necessary to growth!!!    (in Retrospect, have you seen His workings??

#4.  You can be sure/satisfied that God is at work in your life -- without your having any sense of that!!
There is a level of faith, confidence, certainty, trust that does not require the "sensation"! - Job. 13:15 - "thought He slay me, yet will I trust in Him"

Now ... concerning the Holy Spirit working within you:
a) seek
b) study
c) be still
d) be satisfied - it's His doing, not ours if we feel His presence
e) respond .... PRESS ON
These are fundamental basics for the Christian Life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Experiencing God's Presence (or NOT!)

Psm. 139:7-10, 16:11 - praising the presence of God
Contrast:  Psm. 13:1-4, 88:13-18 - lamenting lack of God's presence

Example:  Pastor Ed's test = called, drawn, convinced by the sense of His Presence, which, however,
waned through the years!
(this is not everyone's experience.  However = very common testimony among Christians!  Certainly every believer would like to experience His Presence.

Why?  Why do we not experience Him more?
On one hand, could be sin.  Isa. 59:1-2   But, that's not always the case.
However for example:  Job - was a testing, no sin in his life involved

There are many promises of His Presence:
  'lo, I am with you always'
  'I will never leave nor forsake you.'
  'I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.'
  'Go, and I'll go with you.'
Could do dozens more of these - personal presence and continual presence

However, the experiences of David, Job, Jeremiah, Christ on the cross, martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Mother Teresa, St John of the Cross (1542-91) who wrote a poem about this lack of presence.  Called it "the Dark Night of the Soul".

So, what's a believer to do when he/she doesn't FEEL or SENSE the Presence of God?  The Presence of Christ?

#1.  Seek  HIM.  (whether you sense His Presence or not.)
Example:  Deut. 4:29 - doesn't matter if you find Him.  Told to seek Him!
There's a subtle distinction between seek Him.... not the experience!

#2.  Be Aware of His Presence (whether you sense it or not.)
ie:  mental certainty based on...
     A)  His Omnipresence - you have His Presence all the time wherever you are.
     B)  His many promises
Example: Psm. 23:4 - "fear no evil" - this because I feel your Presence?  or because I know You are with me?

Question:  Is He less present when He's less perceived?  Whether we feel His Presence is irrelevant.
Example:  the sun on a cloudy day, or at night.

#3.  Acknowledge His Presence (whether you sense it or not.)
Example:  worship - "Ill sing about You but not to You until I sense Your Presence.  Same compared to prayer, confidence, seeking counsel, comfort, assistance
Psm. 13:1-6 - Are no promises that we will fell His presence.

#4.  Be Satisfied with His Presence (whether you sense it or not.)
I offer this with reservation, BUT,
1)  darkness could be His Will - example:  Job     Comparison:  Paul's thorn...if He can use the ailment, affliction....??
and, 2)  He is in charge of the experiences, we are not.  Example:  Moses

#5.  Respond to His Known Will (whether you sense His presence or not)  Isa. 50:10  2 Cor. 5:7 - "we walk by faith, not by sight" - Keep on and do what supposed to do.

#6. Press On - 2 Cor. 4:6-9 - My Presence will always be with You.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Christian Work Ethic

Labor Day = estab. federal holiday - 1894 to pay tribute to the American worker/laborer after much abuse.  Led to labor unions, labor recognition such as Labor Day - the "working man's holiday".

On one hand, this is not a religious holiday, however it is easy to find Biblical themes here!!

Therefore:  The Christian Work Ethic
     Definition:  A.  a moral view of work - rights and wrongs
                      B.  Based on Scripture - Biblical view
                      C.  Applicable to the Christian life (walk)

Some Basics:  Scripture teaches:
          1)  God is a Working God - Gen. 2:2-3 - giving human attributes to a Holy God, Psm. 19:1 - when Jesus sent to be incarnate, was sent to working class people.
He's still at work!!! - John 5:16-17, Col. 1:16-17

         2)  He created us in His (working) image  to be working beings
   Before the fall:  Gen. 2:15 - Adam and Eve to work in the garden.  After the fall - Gen. 3:17-19
WORK was NOT the curse.  The curse put toil into WORK!!!
Example:  compare "created to walk" and now after fall - walk is uphill!!!

         3)  These teachings are clearly portrayed in the Old Testament.  Ex. 20:9, Prov. 12:11, 14:23, 18:9
hard work, quality work were expected and applauded - The work ethic of the Jewish people was in total contrast to the people groups around them.  Contrast Prov. 10:5

        4)  These teachings were embraced by the New Testament Christians. - example:  2 Thess. 3:6-15    If able to work, and work is available, then need to work.   It is a moral issue.

Why should Christians work hard?  work well?  work properly directed?  productive?  purpose driven?

Some  reasons to Work well ...

#1.  to provide for family (your responsibility - 1 Tim. 5:8 - hands as well as heart and head

#2.  to provide beyond the family  Acts 20:33-35  Eph. 4:28

#3.  For personal satisfaction and fulfillment.  Eccles. 2:10, 2:24, 3:13 - "a gift from God"

#4.  Work well to honor God (through obedience!!)  The Puritans viewed "work" as a form of worship.
John 17:4, Col. 3:23-24

#5.  To expand His Kingdom  
        A.  by supporting Kingdom Work - tithes and offerings
        B.  by earning respect and C. by setting an example - 1 Thess. 4:11-12, Acts 20:35 - win respect to win souls.


#1.  a Biblical View will not remove the toil from your work!!  We live in a fallen world.  (but will make it easier to maintain the effort)

#2.  Labor alone does not commend you to God. 
Work IS NOT the Bridge.  Eph. 2:8-9
On one hand, your work/efforts matter!!!
However, they are ultimately meaningless without Christ!!!

BUT, also know, #3.  labor done in Christ makes a difference.

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 15:56-58