Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God's Presence at First B - Sioux Falls

Linda and I arrived home last evening from our visit to Sioux Falls. We were with the people of First B - Sioux Falls, and had a wonderful time. God was speaking to me over the weekend, and I'll be processing some of these things today. Thoughts include:

We made some new friends!

Sioux Falls is a beautiful community. Yesterday morning I walked from our hotel to the falls - I wish they were here in Monroe; they would become my new favorite place to sit down, slow down, read the Bible, listen to God, pray...

The First B people were so gracious to us. If you're from First B - thank you for your great hospitality. You accepted us and made us feel at home.

I spoke Sunday morning on Living In the Presence of God. For Jesus followers the distinguishing characteristic is to be that we host the preence of God. Christ, the hope of glory, resides in us by God's Spirit. I am really thinking about this right now.

Every teacher has moments where, while speaking to others, are themselves being spoken-to. So God was addressing me this weekend, and is doing so even now as I write. I want, more than anything, to live and breathe out of the presence of God.

This is very practical for me. For example, I'm far from loving as Jesus loves, and cry out to God for him to produce greater love within me.

And, I have so many people I care for that are now struggling and hurting, and whatever natural abilities I have are not able to pull them out of their darkness. So, for these people, I want to access God's powerful, loving, personal presence, and then be used by God to bring freedom to them. God will get all the credit, and I'll be personally blown away that God would work through me to bring any good to anyone.

Look at this. We read, in Exodus 33:15-19 - "Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"

See that? The God-follower's distinctive, the mark of the real Jesus-follower, is not personal intellect or ability or skill. What is to make us different is not that we are nicer than other people (because we're not, at least not always, and I've met non-Jesus-followers who are nicer than myself).

It is true that the "mark of the Christian" is that "we love one another." Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:33-35) True. But this love is from God and "by His Spirit." I John 3:23-24 - "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us."

That's true. We are to love as Christ loves. But this kind of love, which is supernatural, is "by the Spirit."

To sum it up: 1) Jesus-followers have Christ in them. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We host the presence of God. 2) Hosting God's presence is key to loving like Jesus loved and still loves. It's key to doing the "greater things" Jesus predicted we would be doing. 3) Today, host God's presence. Desire it. Welcome it. Be led by God. Experience God. Know God. God, give me some of that this morning, and I'll be good to go. I bless my new friends in Sioux Falls with a day of God with you all!

And... show us all Your glory...

("And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."
Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."
And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."")