Biblical Foundations 5: Being With God (Mark 6:31)
We have been looking at different Bible passages over the last four posts to understand the Biblical foundation of this local church—
Why does God have each of us attending HERE?
What is He doing in and through us within the walls of this building and outside in this local community and beyond?
We have looked at passages that God is using mightily in my own Christian life to bless me, encourage me, warn me, comfort me, humble me, discipline me, convict me, and guide me…I cannot possibly be more excited than I am to proclaim God’s Word to you all!
Last week we began looking at 1 Peter 5 and the importance of humbling ourselves before God on a regular basis (under God’s mighty hand!), for Christians to seek out God and ask Him on a regular basis to point out the sin that is still in our minds and hearts, to convict us (not condemn us!) so that we can repent of those sins, be forgiven, and be CLEANED out by the Holy Spirit (1 John 1:9) so that Jesus shines thorugh us more brightly, so that we have more of His joy & peace in our souls…
How do we place ourselves under God’s mighty hand?
- Bible reading
It’s pretty cool how two devices can sync info by being close via Bluetooth. But God & the Bible don’t work like that–we must read & agree & obey, not just be near it. Many church attenders have a number of Bibles on the shelves/phones that only gather dust…A phone/device must be docked—STILL!—in order to charge fully…
- Like David & Nathan in 2 Samuel 12: Nathan told David a story of injustice in David’s kingdom. David was outraged and said, “Who is this man who has done this? I will have him put to death for his crime!” YOU ARE THAT MAN! Nathan cried!
- David was humbled & convicted by and repented through God’s Word through Nathan…the same will happen to us when we read the Bible, not to just “get it done” but so that it will read us back…you don’t wear the blood pressure device at the doctor’s office for a few seconds and then rip it off; you leave it on your arm and allow it to squeeze, even uncomfortably!, so that it can do its job and reveal to you your blood pressure, whether healthy or unhealthy. We must read the Bible and allow it to squeeze us to help us get healthy in every way…as we read a passage, let’s ask the Holy Spirit, “Am I THAT man? Am I THAT woman? Do I do that, believe that, respond that way?”
We then finished the last post by looking at the ways that God’s hand is trustworthy; that we can place ourselves under His mighty hand because of all the ways in the Bible that His hand takes care of us in an earthly and eternal sense!
Now we will look at some of the OTHER reasons that we come to God in silence, in prayer, and in Bible reading…for those are the three main ways that we come into His presence…The Bible isn’t teaching that every moment of our lives is just a confessing of our sins and a focusing on our sins! Not at all! But it is one part of the many ways in which we interact with God in relationship, in deep/intimate knowing…
- Let me pause here for a moment: loved ones, listening to a sermon from the Bible is one of the ways that we worship God. If the devil can’t keep us from attending church, he next wants to keep our minds & hearts not listening/paying attention to the sermon.
- One of the ways he does this is to make us think that a particular sermon “isn’t for us,” that it is either for non-Christians or younger Christians and we have been following Jesus for a long time and we’ve know all about this particular passage or topic. So we tune out God’s Word for us because we think we have “graduated” from such a passage or topic.
- Oh loved ones, what a dangerous temptation we face! What pride of heart to ever think, before entering heaven, that we have “arrived” and that God can’t refresh our hearts through a familiar passage of Scripture, through a basic Truth from the Bible! What dangerous ground to be on in God’s house and think this way!
- Please keep this in mind as we go through some important Kindergarten Truth, as we dig into the Bible to look at one of the cornerstones of this local church—the different reasons/ways that we come to God. Remember, the highest skyscrapers of math and calculus are built on the sturdy and simple foundation that “2 + 2 = 4”, always has and always will! Thus some of these sermons might seem elementary or basic, but they are absolutely essential and easy to forget as we grow as Christians…just as some married couples stop dating and pursuing each other and wonder why their relationship isn’t flourishing like it did when they first met; they have stopped doing the basic things that they did at first to cultivate the friendship so that sacrificial love will grow & bloom! We need to get back to the same basic actions in our marriage to Christ Jesus…we need the “2 + 2 = 4” of the Word of God…
God also invites us to come to Him to praise Him…
We’re to let our light shine thru serving God (Matthew 5:16).
We’re also to shine thru being with God (Moses–Exodus 34:28-30) &
praising God in suffering (Stephen–Acts 6:15, 7:54-60)
- Some will ask, “Wow. Is God so insecure that He needs us to praise Him all the time?”
NOT AT ALL! We praise and worship God alone not because He lacks or needs our praise—it is simply because He is so WORTHY of it!
We do this naturally in other areas of life:
- We applaud, often without thinking about it, when someone does something particularly noteworthy or impressive; our applause is not a result of consciously thinking, “Oh I better applaud for them because they NEED me to,” rather our applause is an expression of our appreciation for what they have done…it is a natural response to the spectacular and in some ways we enjoy giving applause as another enjoys receiving it…does anyone say, upon being present for one spectacular act after another after another, ‘Well I wish this would stop soon…I’m tired of all this clapping!” NO! We want the performance to go on and on and on, we want there to be encore after encore! Ah yes, THIS is heaven, loved ones, where we will see Jesus face to face and each day will say again to God, “Do it again! Encore!” and He will delight to display more and more of His glorious character and Person to us for all eternity!
- How much more does God deserve our worship and praise, for us to focus on Him and learn to notice His wondrous works and displays of His perfect character all around us!? Our praise is not because God NEEDS it but rather because He deserves it…what joy will fill our hearts as God teaches us to notice and applaud Him throughout our days!
God ALONE is worthy of our worship, for in defining the word “amazing” only God’s character and actions are worthy of that word:
Psalm 136:4: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love endures forever; Who alone does great wonders.”
The greatest accomplishments & artistic masterpieces on earth are mere stick figures compared to the wonders of God. When we come to Him in worship we get the privilege of acknowledging that Truth!
We Also Come To God To thank Him…
The word “thank” appears 133x in the Bible! It is an important part of our relationship with the LORD…
Again, some might think, “Why do we have to go on and on with thanking God all the time? I’ve thanked Him in the past, isn’t that enough?”
Oh loved ones, if we ever think that let’s confess that to God! Being annoyed at writing the thank you note shows that we haven’t really appreciated the gift…Confess that to your loving Father and He will teach you to truly appreciate His gift of salvation through the brutal death of His Son—He will restore to you the joy of His salvation—and you will not be content to merely write a note of thank you or sing a brief song half-heartedly but will desire to give to Him your very life, your very self, your mind and heart and body and dreams and possessions as an offering far too small to express the great gratitude that is in your heart for His greater mercy and grace offered freely to you…
If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of that right now, just confess it to Him and receive His forgiveness…This post is about you and the LORD! I’m just the simple violinist who is playing some music off to the side as you meet with God Himself through His Word…
We Come To God To Ask For Help…
As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, part of God’s transforming work in us after we receive Jesus as Savior is to lower our self-confidence and raise our God-confidence:
- “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5);
- “I can do all this through Christ Who gives me strength!” (Philippians 4:13–please click HERE).
And so we ask Him for help constantly—we celebrate our beautiful dependence on God instead of asserting our independence and gritting our teeth and trying to show how “big” we are to do things on our own…My dear 13 year old used to say, “Bina-do-it!” when she was 2 and 3; that is still one of her nicknames—“Bina-do-it!” Spiritually, though, God wants to teach us to say, “God-do-it! Jesus-do-it! Holy Spirit-do-it!” Like David, we face the giant and sling the stone in faith, but GOD defeats the giant, GOD gives the victory, GOD’s fame is spread, not David’s, not our own…So we meet with God to ask for His help every day…
We Come To God To listen to Him
The “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-13).
“Let those who have ears HEAR what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29).
- But some might say, “I’ve tried! God never says anything to me! It’s frustrating!”
I believe that you have tried, but for how LONG have you tried? Children often try to do something difficult for 5 or 10 seconds and then give up! Many adults try for a week or two to start exercising and then stop…have they really tried?
Loved ones, at the end of the day I believe that not listening to God reveals that deep down we believe He doesn’t have much to say to us…or that He doesn’t have much worthwhile for us to listen to…do you truly believe that God your Father has NOTHING to say to you? That the God Who created you by Hand and Who died for you on the cross has nothing to say to you EVER?
Do you never have anything to say to your children, to your loved ones? Now there may be times when you have less to say, or when you are more quiet, but over the course of a week, month, or year, do you have nothing that you want to communicate to those closest to you?
Of course you do, and so does God. He has MUCH to say to you:
John 16:12-15: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Like a parent who says to a baby that winces at bland rice cereal: “I have much more to feed you, more than you can now bear, stomach, digest. Just keep eating the rice cereal to grow, be healthy, and be able someday to eat the rest!”
Jeremiah 33:3: “‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”
He has so much to tell us through HIs Word!!! But even if He doesn’t speak to us, we don’t listen to God primarily for what He will tell us and therefore if God has nothing to say to us it’s then time for us to leave, it’s time for us to do something else “more productive.” Listening to God isn’t something we try out for a while and if we don’t get the results we are looking for we move on to something else…
Oh loved ones, we come into the presence of God to listen to Him and be with Him simply because of the privilege that it is, simply because it is THE greatest honor in the world to be with Him, whether He says anything or not! We must wrestle to not let our relationship with God become a transaction where we give Him something and we get something; He is not a vending machine! He is our Father, our Brother, our Comforter and Friend, our Husband and King and Savior…keep listening to Him even if you don’t think He is saying anything…
”Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9).
We Come To God To simply pour out our hearts in communication and conversation—this is what we do with loved ones—we TALK! Why would we do anything different with the One Who Is Love Himself!? This happened today, and that happened today, and oh I can’t wait to get a moment to go by myself in quietness to share with You my heart, King Jesus! This is learned over time, just as it takes a child time to form sounds, words, sentences and thoughts and learn how to communicate them to others…it takes time but oh it is WORTH it to learn to be in daily and consistent conversation with God, the beautiful dance of One-on-one conversation with the Lord of the universe!!!
“By prayer let me wrestle, and He wilt perform, With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm” (John Newton).
We Come To God To pray for others in need…
Romans 15:30: 30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
When we pray for others we are literally “joining them in their struggle.” HOW AMAZING IS THAT!? What an opportunity each day to pray for others and join them in their struggle! YES!!!!! Paul needed prayer from other Christians 2,000 years ago…we need the same today as well. 🙂
And yes we come to God also to confess to Him…
And so confession, repentance, a humbling of ourselves under the mighty hand of God, is one of the many important ways that we interact with God on a daily and regular basis…
Are there any debts of sin recently that I owe to You, Lord? I apologize and take responsibility and humbly apply my debt to the limitless gold of the Cross of Jesus…
Psalm 32: David GROANED under the spiritual, mental, emotional, and even physical suffering of not confessing his sins to God…but after he confessed he was forgiven and relieved and ended the psalm PRAISING GOD JOYFULLY!
Oh loved ones, it is foundational to this local church and to each of us as individuals that we KNOW God deeply and intimately, that we draw closer and closer to Him every day…not just knowing ABOUT God but KNOWING God deeply and intimately…
A library has facts about people but we don’t say the people are there. Reading books all day about George Washington doesn’t mean you can say that you hung out with GW! The Bible = the facts of God but also His character & presence—He’s there! Reading the Bible is one of the key ways that we meet with Him…
James 4:7-10 (NIV)
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.