Archive of ‘31 Days of Practicing His Presence’ category
God is Love.
1 John 4:8
God is the Lover of our souls.
If you haven’t caught on yet, I like words. I like words even more when I know what they mean. So indulge my word finding geek mode another day. The definition of acceptnace is..get this… the act of beleiveing and asserting. That’s right. Believing and asserting what you know to be truth. That means that in relationship to God (if you are using His Word to process through these steps) means that you can BELIEVE what He says and act in a way that demonstrates your belief. Acceptance of what God says, who He says you are and how you are to BE is the thing that obedience is made of. Obedience will serve us, friends, as we jump into the rest of our study.
It is my hope that these last five days have served as a reminder of how beloved you are. How much God adores you. He is desperate for you to know that. We had to start here, focused on your vertical, if we have any hope of addressing the horizontal. As we wrap up this week, let me give you one last prompt. God is all about you asking for what you need.
Take a moment to do just that. Ask Him. He loves hearing from you and the fact that you need Him.
Despite all your many offenses, He forgives and releases you. More than any doctor, He heals your diseases.
Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships.
Forgiveness is essential. Not for others but for ourselves. Receiving God’s forgiveness (which He richly and freely gives) is receiving God’s mercy. Mercy is the action of forgiveness. By definition, mercy is to have compassion, act with kindness and the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment or invoke a death penalty. Forgiveness, at times, is a lot like mercy in that it requires us to receive something that we have not paid for or do not deserve.
In order to forgive, I mean truly extend mercy, we must have a baseline for how forgiveness works. We don’t know what we know until we know what we know. To not receive God’s forgiveness and expect ourselves to operate in forgiveness is an oxymoron. I have often been convicted in my own resistance to receive forgiveness. The Lord has showed me on more than one occasion that denying His offer is pride at its worst. To be offered unmerited high favor (grace) and pardon (mercy) from our most Holy God and not accept it is, in my opinion, the most outrageous display of pride. Grace, mercy and forgiveness is WHO GOD IS. To rebuke those gifts is to rebuke Him. Matt Chandler always says that ‘you can’t out sin God. You are just not that good at sinning’. True forgiveness must start with receiving.
First of all repentance is a get to, not a have to. Repent has six letters, not four. Its not a bad word. In fact it is synonymous with another six letter word, relief. Awareness and confession would be way too overwhelming if repentance was not available.
The Bible is a brutally honest book. It contains stories of liars, murderers, and adulterers; and these are the good guys. If we read the Bible looking only for positive role models, we’ll be quickly disappointed. But if we are honest with ourselves and confess our own faults, we will find in Scripture, particularly in the First Testament, that we have much in common with many broken saints of the past. But we must not stay broken. We must follow their path to transformation through repentance and faith. Repentance means a change of heart, a change of mind, and ultimately a change of how we live. God’s grace comes to us and enables us to turn away from sin and to turn back to Him.
(Intro to Hebrews 12:18 in the Voice)
Repentance is the way back. Its the most unnatural but most essential part of relationship with God. When our flesh says to run and hide (Genesis 3), our heart is drawn to exposure in the Light of Christ. God is love and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we are being conformed to the image of Christ, then God is interested in irradiating the darkness within us. Repentance in not about paying penance. It is the active response to humility born in confession.
Repentance is to say “God, I have grieved you by not believing you for your faithfulness. I have become prideful and have sought solace and meaning in things that will never provide. Things that will never fill and I am thirsty. I am desperate. Please forgive me.” Repentance is the the way back to the heart of God.
Whoever tries to hide his sins will not succeed, but the one who confesses his sins and leaves them behind will find mercy. Provers 28:13
Awareness is simply becoming concious. Its like the first light of dawn. Its not dawn, its just the first sign that day is coming. There is a lot more to day then the first light of dawn. What if we expected nothing more than that first glimmer of morning light? What if we stopped right there and never believed for the glory of mid-day?
I should say here that awareness (as God gives) sounds nothing like guilt or shame. If the awareness that you received yesterday sounds familiar to you, its probably just you talking to you again and mimicking what you think God feels about you. God’s voice never sounds like yours. His is much kinder. He is responsive, patient, kind and gentle. He gives you awareness because A. you’ve asked for it and B. He adores you.
Awareness is a waking of sorts. A sobering look at what is and most of the time that is painful. It is painful to wake up to your broken or hardened heart. Its painful to actually feel your disappointment and see the ways you’ve tried to replace God in your life. The way you’ve given up and settled for less than what you were created for.
Confession and humility go hand in hand. To know God is to know that you are not God. Confession is the mouthpiece of a humble heart.
Even if we had forgotten the name of our God or offered praise to another god,Would not the True God have known it? For He can see the hidden places of our hearts.
You don’t know what you know until you know what you know. You know?
We are a shadow version of our intended creation. Sin cuts in on us. It cut in on humanity. It severed any chance of attaining the desires we were created for, however it didn’t deaden the desire itself. Sin does the perverse thing of interrupting any possibility of attaining the things that we, in light of our creation, are driven to desire WITHOUT interrupting the desire itself. Do you get that? The love that we want in our God fashioned hearts is good. It never ceases to exist, dream, or pursue. However sin prevents us from ever truly having it (Genesis 3). So we are left holding either an empty heart or a shattered one. Here is the thing that sin could NOT disrupt. God’s love for us. God’s desire for intimacy and relationship with us. Sin separates, except in the case of Christ. His atoning sacrifice, spurred on by His immense love, integrates you (the sinner) with your Savior.
I don’t think we know we need Him until we know how we’ve grieved Him. Today I challenge you to sit with Him and ask Him how he feels about you. Where He might be jealous for you. Where you are looking for love in all of the wrong places (maybe even looking for love in too many faces…I am sorry, I couldn’t help it). Just ask Him and don’t be offended by His response. The truth is you probably knew that already.
God is about relationship. He sent His only Son because He loved the world. He sent Jesus so that we could be reconciled to Himself and that relational restoration would be possible.
If you have spent any amount of time with me, particularly in bible study or in the Holy Yoga community, you will know that I am about one thing…transparent relationship with God. I believe that the bulk of our abundant life starts with living the truth of the gospel today. I believe in the power of God’s Word as the authoritative direction for life and the magnificence of the Holy Spirit in a heart surrendered to its King.
If we study the life of Christ and his relationship to the Father, we can see that there is a way to go about intimacy. There is a way that Jesus models coming to, hearing from, and acting in response to what he hears in his Fathers presence. I believe as co-heirs with Christ that we too can participate in this type of gospel intimacy.
For the next five days, join me as we look at the heart of the Father and His desire for us to fully know Him. I had the pleasure of writing a bible study recently titled “God’s Love – A Journey in the the Heart of the Father.” For the next five days we will look at the steps of gospel intimacy using some of the excerpts of that study. Journey with me as we study what intimacy takes and what is doesn’t.
God is about your abundant life. The kind of life that is only found in Him. What are you waiting for?
Lets do this.
Community can be tricky. I think mostly because we we have expectations for community. We expect community, especially in Christ, to be something magically free of vain pursuit and ego maniacs. What I have found, no matter how well intended, that authentic community is not one established or maintained in moralistic restrain, but one where its members are radically pursuing intimate communion with God.
In Matthew 6, Jesus sheds light on how authentic community begins with authentic communion.
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6:6 The Message
Do you see that? The very first thing the Lord tells us is to get alone with Him. Where we can be authentic. Where we can be seen for exactly who and where we are. Where we come face to face with ourselves in light of who He is. He tells us that because it is the BEGINNING of sensing His grace. Its there that the motives and darkness of our human hearts, which prevent unity in the body, will be exposed. Authentic kingdom community is defined by love and known by grace. Our human hearts (unless radically consumed by Christ) will not be able to live out in love. God is interested in re-defining our hearts as ones that are radically consumed by his grace in order that theycan reflect His nature and light.
I think my real thirst for community is no longer one defined as “authentic”, but rather one defined as a “Kingdom”. Where everyone takes their place on their knees before the throne of God. Where everyone filters their lives through the collander of His Word. Where everyone is finding out who they are and what they are livnig for in light of who Christ says they are. Where obedience is not optional, because the cost of disobedience is too much.
A kingdom community is one where grace is not the exception, but the rule. A kingdom people are ones who know the space where grace begins, and are not afraid of it. Amen?
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 1:11
In this series, we are diving into what we find in God’s presence. I have personally found assurance to be one of those things, although scripture tells us that assurance is is a product of faith, and not simply presence. Faith, by definition, is having hope in something in which we have not yet seen. Something that hasn’t happened yet, but we believe is possible because of the one responsible for that thing happening.
I was listening to a podcast a couple weeks ago and the pastor was saying that on his very first mission trip to Cambodia, he had the honor of speaking to hundreds of orphaned children in a “jungle church” about the love of God. He preached for an hour to these growing adolescent children who had been orphaned by genocide ten or twelve years prior, most of them were under the age of five at the time of the war. After his sermon, a 13 year old girl came up to him what he said is one of the most profound question of his entire ministry. In broken english, she asked “what is hope?”
I suppose that is about right. We can not believe for better if we don’t know that better is an option. God is graceful in that. He gives assurance the moment we, by faith, dare to hope for better.
Our assurance in God is founded on our belief that God is really there. That He exists. That He is for us. That He is who He says He is and His word is alive and active. In faith, God does all the heavy lifting. He is not offended by your need for Him to prove Himself to you, in fact, He is delighted to do so.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. Hebrew 6:19-20
“I must first have the sense of God’s possession of me before I can have the sense of His presence with me.”
Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life
Possession is a strange thing. Strange in that is goes against the very core of our humanity that says “I am my own person. I can do it alone. I don’t need anyone and if I do it means that I am flawed and weak”.
It sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But it is the hardened cry of our human hearts. Hearts that have been designed for relationship but have experienced the harsh reality of an existence separate of Glory.
Possession by definition is the act or fact of possessing, the state of being possessed, and/or ownership as in holding occupancy.
If the places of our hearts that were created for His possession are not being occupied by His Spirit then we run the risk of being occupied by other things. To understand that we are temples designed to carry the Holy Spirit is to recognize that we are temples, period. We are vessels. We we will be occupied by Him or other things.
If we choose to be occupied by Him, we choose to not be occupied by another. That choice initiates our sense of His presence, and His presence alone brings life. So to truly live, as Watchman Nee describes, we must first have a sense of God’s possession of us before we can have the sense of His presence with us.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Genesis 2:2-3 NIV
The Lord is serious about rest. Serious. He speaks of it in His Word 271 times in the NIV. To rest is to remember. If God Himself rests, we have to recognize it’s importance.
I don’t think God gets tired and yet we see that He rests. I think its because He doesn’t want to miss the goodness of His creation. If God rests in order not to miss the goodness of His creation, why do we wait to rest until we are dead tired, dragging ourselves half wrecked around our lives barely able to keep our eyes open? That’s not rest, that’s exhaustion. How can we enjoy the goodness of our God and our lives like that?
God came to give us life and life abundantly. Rest helps us maintain balance. Rest gives us space from ourselves in order to remember the good things God has given us in our lives.
Rest today, friends. Rest, recognize and and remember His goodness in the land of the living today.