When God Reveals Himself

“When you said, ‘Seek my face’, my heart answered, ‘Thy face, Lord, will I seek’--Psalm 27.8 “Ask, and it shall be given; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it will be opened.” Matt. 7.7

Imagine the mystery of the universe lying behind this great, heavy curtain.

  • The atheist stands before it, declaring, “There’s absolutely nothing back there.”
  • The agnostic comes and has no doubts, “We can never know what’s back there.”
  • The philosopher expounds on and on about what lies behind the curtain.
  • The religionist explains it with a host of creeds, doctrines and rituals.
  • The humble penitent comes to the curtain, asks, seeks and waits…until the curtain opens and the Lord God, King of the universe, reveals Himself

God revealed Himself first in real history. That first Christmas He actually did show up, coming to us as a babe. He lived among us, suffered with us, forgave us, saved us from sin and guilt and proved his love by dying for us. We celebrate Easter because He really did rise up from the tomb, conquering our worst nightmare—death. To top it off, he offers those who will ask and receive, the incredible gift of eternal life.

God reveals Himself today to us if we ask and seek. Surrounded by skeptics at an Ivy League University, I was on my way to becoming an atheist. But I had not given up my  curiousity, so I must have been asking and seeking. One weekend I chose to be among bright, eager, young believers. They lived out their faith, sharing their love for Jesus Christ with me. I joined them singing a hymn by Charles Wesley: “Amazing Love, How can it be, that thou my God hast died for me.” Those words floored me.

Could it be true? Is Jesus, who I heard all my life, died for me, really God?  I had to know, so I got alone and—well I guess you would say I prayed, though it was more like a challenge. “God, if you really love me and died for me, surely you can reveal this to me, can’t you?” Then I waited and guess what. That curtain opened for me. I knew and felt to be in the presence of the Holy. There was no doubt. It was all true, so I surrendered to Him and my life changed forever.

We come to know God the way we come to know anyone. Let’s say I go into McDonald’s, sit down next to this guy and we get talking. After some small talk, we ask each other some personal questions. By asking and answering we come to know something about each other. We might continue with this and eventually form a friendship. But if I don’t care enough to ever ask or he doesn’t ask, can we ever come to know each other?  Wouldn’t we leave McDonald’s as we came—complete strangers. To know God or anyone, we must care enough to ask and seek.

I am still asking God questions. I have found prayer includes asking, seeking, listening and waiting. God, as it turns out, delights in opening the curtain, revealing Himself and answering my questions. Over the years, we have formed a close bond this way, as He continues to reveal Himself to me. He speaks to my heart by His Spirit and to my mind by His Word, the Holy Scriptures. God’s servant, Paul surely grasped this, writing, “…that I may know him in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings.” 

Would you consider taking this challenge by honestly asking Him, seeking Him and knocking. He will surely open that curtain for you.

Please make comments. They keep us going.

What Can We Do About Our Divisions?

Previously we traced some root causes for the many divisions among Christians.     In this post we stress why unity is vital and offer some steps to implement  it. 

Part 1:  If Christianity is to recover from its malaise, our leaders  must find ways to cooperate and work together, not competitively. God’s ultimate plan for our broken world is “to bring all things  together in unity through Christ both in heaven and earth.” (Eph 1:12) . We can help heal our broken church to find  ways to model agreement and harmony, fulfilling God’s dream for us.

Why Is Unity So Important?

1. Jesus’ heart cries out for it “I pray for them Father…that they will all be one,…may they be one. May they be together in unitymay they be one. In this, his high-priestly prayer, urgency grips the Savior. Five times he pleads for us “to be one.” [BTW: Wesley wisely observed that the Bible’s most essential truths are the ones most repeated].

2. Our unity conforms with and reflects the harmonious relationship within the Godhead. Jesus’ prayer shines light on  God’s perfect unity within himself.Father, as you and I are one…as you are in me… as you are  in me, Father, and I am in you.”

3. We are called to ”Imitate God and follow Christ’s example of love” –Eph. 5:1. If we imitate God and follow Christ. we will seek grace to resist temptations to argue and bicker over doctrines. Is my job as a believer to criticize you and correct your beliefs or  to love and encourage you? -Galatians 6: 1-5

4. Divided we fall and our witness is dead in the water.  Jesus prayed for unity so the world would know we are genuinely His “…then the world will believe you sent me” and “…so the world will know you sent me.

  • When we demonstrate unity and model Christ’s love among ourselves, unbelievers will be open to us and the gospel of love we preach.
  • .Competition, lack of cooperation, doctrinal quarrels, is a real turn-off. Divided, we lose our saltiness and hide our light. (Matt. 5:13-16).
  • Jesus calls us to “be” his witnesses,”—live the gospel, then “tell it.” -Acts 1:8

6. Our unity goes hand in hand with obeying Jesus’ new covenant command: “Love one another as I have loved you”—-John 13: 34.

  • He promises the same results in his command and prayer: “Your love for one another proves to the world you are my disciples
  • Lost, hungry souls need to see we are genuine before they accept our message.

 Part 2: Vital Ways To Restore Unity. 

1. Pray! Pray! Pray together and alone, fervently with expectation, that mutual love and unity will take root in our fellowships and spread across our divided church.

  • It shows our love for Jesus Christ“If you love me, you will obey me.”
  • Prayer changes things. Our prayers may help put “united” back in USA.
  • Pray for peace in our homes. Eph. 5 and 6 offer 365 wise words of counsel to families. When we follow them, God’s peace strengthens family ties.
  • Harmony in other relationships Charity (love) starts at home, but it mustn’t stay there:  “As far as possible, be at peace with everyone.” (Rom.  12:18) “Do good to all, especially to those of God’s family.”  (Gal 6:10)

2. Prayer Requires Actions. Ask God as if everything depended on Him. Act as though it all depends on you.     

Future posts will offer more strategies to implement His love and unity.  

Please, share your comments. It encourages us if we know folks read our stuff.

 P.S. Seven Words From Scripture To Help Confirm This Truth To Our Hearts. 

  1. Peace: (eirenei) Inner peace comes when we have peace with God & others.
  2. One accord: (homothumadon) In Acts whenever disciples are “of one mind and heart,” God blesses them with rapid growth and miracles.
  3. Agreement/harmony: (symphanos) Jesus promised His special presence when we agree. “How good it is when brethren dwell together”…like a symphony
  4. Reconciliation: (katalogei) God unites and restores us to himself, then calls us to be his ambassadors of reconciliation to unite others to God and one another.
  5. Love: (agape). “I show you a more excellent way.” Where I Cor. 13 love is practiced, unity follows. If we are in unity, expect miracles of grace.
  6. Friendship: (philei) “I now call you my friends. If you are my friends, you will obey my commandment to love one another as I have loved you.”
  7. Fellowship (koinonia) is our common love for Christ and one another.

Feedback encourage us to continue in this ministry until Christ’s dream for us to be “one” comes true.

 

 

The Man Who Amazed Jesus

Many amazed Jesus by their lack of faith, but only one amazed him by his extraordinary faith. He was a Gentile and an officer in the Roman army.

This centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant who was suffering greatly with paralysis. When Jesus asked him if he should come and heal him, the soldier replied.  “Lord, I do not deserve for you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I  am also a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one‘ Come,’ and he comes.” [Matthew 8:7-9]

 Jesus’ response: “…he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. .” [Matthew 8:10]

Here is how this man showed extraordinary faith

  1. He had no doubts:“my servant will be healed.” .He was convinced Jesus had the power and authority to do what he asked of him.
  2. No barrier of distance to his faith. ”I do not deserve for you come under my roof. What did he mean? Jesus, you have such great power and authority, you can do it from here or anywhere you choose.
  3. He knew the power of the Word: “just say the word.”  He recognized Jesus’ power was not in what he did, but simply in the word of his command.
  4. He grasped the chain of command: — ”I am also a man under authority”, As the centurion was a link in the Roman chain of command, he saw Jesus’ link in Heaven’s chain of command.
  5. He saw the source of Jesus’s power was like his own It rested on his connection to the head of the Roman empire. He recognized Jesus’ power and authority came from his connection to God, the head of the universe.
  6. He showed humility by admitting he had no power within himself.

What does this mean for us?

  1. We are included in Heaven’s chain of command. Jesus called his disciples to him and gave them authority. [Luke 9:1) For the Son of man is like a man who takes a far journey… and gave authority to his servants [Mark 13:34]
  2. We can pray with confidence and authority, trusting not in our selves, but in our connection to Christ. “Without me you can do nothing…If ye remain in me and my words remain in you can ask for anything and it will be given. [John 15: 5, 7]
  3. By declaring and repeating God’s Word when we pray, “thus says the Lord.”
  4. By our humility in serving and obedience to him, we may lay claim to and exercise our authority in Christ.
  •  Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus… He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—Therefore God exalted him [Philippians 2: 5,6]
  • Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. [1 Peter 5:6}
  • “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant[Matthew 20:25,26]

God in the Kitchen

“Lord, is it fair that my sister sits there [at your feet] while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help.”…The Lord answered, “ Martha, Martha, you are in a dither about many things!  Yet only one thing is needful and Mary has chosen it….” [Luke 9: 40, 41, 42].

Poor Martha! She really takes it on the chin for being so caught up in mundane tasks. Did Jesus expect her to leave her kitchen duties and join Mary at his feet? Maybe not. How then would  their many guests get fed?  Can’t we go about our ordinary tasks and still maintain a loving relationship with Jesus Christ? Continue reading

Teamwork and the Kingdom of God

Not a Modern Invention. Two years ago I was diagnosed with aggressive, stage iv cancer. So I got a team of believers to unite with me—to agree with me in prayer for a miracle. We know teams of people, working together in harmony, can accomplish great things. And you know, Vince Lombardi didn’t invent the idea. Jesus Christ brought a team of men and women together, he called them the church, who turned the world upside down for him. Continue reading

God Whisperers

The Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake or fire, but in the sound of a small whisper. I Kings 19:12

We’ve heard about those special individuals who have unique talents for communicating with dogs, horses and even plants. They have been labeled “whisperers.” I know a gifted mechanic whom some might call a car whisperer.  To achieve this status requires skills in listening, observing and a readiness to take action. Continue reading

Praying for Results

Lord, Teach us to Pray.

Creating prayer workshops in a local church is not an easy task these days, but the rewards are great! The objective is to teach folks how to pray for specific results as Jesus taught we should and as the first church practiced. Next, continue workshop as a group that uses these proven methods to help a local church realize its goals.

 I. Getting Started:

     A. Pray for direction. Some possible options to get things rolling:

  1. Lay the groundwork with a sermon series on “Effective Prayer,” using biblical models.
  2. Recruit certain individuals to sign up for a workshop called, “Praying for Results.”

  3. Ease existing study groups into practicing the principles of effective prayer.

  4. Encourage this kind of praying among existing teams and/or committees.

  5. Develop this kind of praying at staff meetings.

  B. Agree on Some Basic Principles:

1.  Jesus and the apostles urge us to ask expecting answers to our specific requests

2.  God delights in answering our requests, in fact it is his will we do so. Starting our prayers with, “if it be your will,” may seem pious, but it’s a faith-killer. We should pray as Jesus did who boldly asked to avoid the cross, but finished “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

3.  Question: Is prayer that doesn’t expect an answer really prayer?

4.  Solitary praying is important, however teams that pray together are more effective.

5.  Praying silently is fine, but if we don’t pray aloud how will others agree with us. [We know Jesus prayed aloud because his disciples heard his prayers and recorded them.]

6.  Faith will increase among prayer teams when God answers their specific requests.

7.  Expect these results: overcome obstacles, realize God’s purposes and build community.

Next post: Nuts and Bolts of How to do a Prayer Workshop

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