Jun
13

Understanding the Presence of God (Pt. 1 of 4 Pt. Series)

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Understanding the Presence of God

by Pastor Pete Tackett

Text: John 15:5-8

 Introduction:

  •  For the next four weeks, we are going to just linger over the most important issue in the Christian walk.
  •  It is the issue of prayer. I have used the phrase in this series, “The Presence of God,” because we have somehow misunderstood the scope and purpose of prayer in the life of a believer.
  •  It is the first and most significant truth needed in the believer’s journey, but unfortunately, is the most often misunderstood and ignored.
  •  It seems to me just anecdotally, that prayer is often the last thing we learn (as you see more Senior Adult prayer warriors than young ones) and should be the first thing we learn.
  •  Even those closest to Jesus seemed to have a hard time grasping it. In Luke 11:1, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
  •  Some weeks ago, I had a revelation as some folks on our MWPG simply said, we don’t know how to pray.
  •  I forgot that many of you have come into the church after the initial teaching I did a couple of years ago.
  •  Even since then, and especially in recent days, God has really spoken to me about prayer.

 

Our focus is wrong:

  •  We have judged prayer based on visible results.
  •  We have judged its value by our feelings.
  •  We have assigned it to those more spiritual.
  •  We have focused on doing rather than being.
  •  It seems to me that each time Jesus prayed in the new testament, it was more about him just being with his Father.
  •  It is about the presence of the Father in every moment of your life.
  •  Brother Lawrence, a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in the 1600’s, described it best when he said, we must learn to practice the presence of God.
  •  Herein lies the problem. I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know how to do this thing. BUT, it is not about doing something, it is about being something and being with someone, God.
  •  Jesus described a fruitful, prayerful life in John 15:7.
  •  Read the text with me….

 

1. Prayer is consciously embracing the presence of God.

  •  The word is “remains”. Your translation may say “abide.”
    •  Gk. Meno’ (minnow)
    •  We have somehow relegated it to a prayer closet – a place where we meet.
    •  It really speaks not only of place but time.
    •  Continually stay in me.
    •  When you are at work, stay in me.
    •  When you are at school, stay in me.
    •  When you are with your family, stay in me.
  •  We have this disconnect between our head and our heart.
  •  We say we believe in the Omnipresence of God, but if we did, two things would be different.
    •  Our behavior-the things we allow in our life and the things we do.
    •  The reality is that God is all present and especially for the believer, is involved in every decision and everything you do.
    •  It should be the norm for you mid-sentence and mid decision to just say I need to stop and hear from the Lord on this.
  •  Again, what I am saying is this. God is present all the time in every thing you do and prayer is simply welcoming and embracing that presence.
  •  I will come back to this, but the only way to have an effective prayer life is to embrace the presence of God.
  •  Once you have done that…

 

2. Prayer is allowing God to speak into circumstances, yours and others.

  •  My words remain in you.
  •  Gk. Logos – living word.
  •  Something supernatural happens when the Christ follower begins to listen consciously and look purposefully for the presence of God.
  •  Jesus, by His Spirit, the living Word begins to speak truth into the circumstances that weigh heavily on your mind.
  •  Only in this second wave of understanding His presence does it begin to feel like prayer as we know it.
  •  We all have a prayer list. Some are people we love and some are intensely private.
  •  The fallacy of simply making an appointment with God to tell him what is wrong begins to be evident. After all, if he is all present, he already knows your job is in jeopardy or Aunt Sue has cancer.
  •  Then why are we commanded to pray.
  •  The all knowing, all present Father wants to be so close to you and so real to you that He can shine the light of HIS truth into that situation.
  •  We interpret everything that happens as pleasure or pain based on our perception of those events.
  •  When you embrace and remain in the presence of God, He reveals to you that this present pain may not be the worst thing, but is in fact the best thing.
  •  That is how the living word works.
  •  Paul said it this way in Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Speaks of both eternity and our current life.
  •  Prayer is simply living so intently in the presence of God that when things happen, good or bad, he can speak His truth into that situation.
  •  This is the reason Satan has taught us as Christians to be busy and fill our lives with entertainment.
  •  Now, we have embraced His presence and allowed him to speak truth into our lives.
  •  He now says it is ok to ask Him.

 

3. Prayer is partnering with God to want and pursue His will.

  •  This is where prayer as we know it comes in…only after embracing His presence in all things and allowing His word to speak into the good, bad, and ugly of our lives.
  •  Now that we have heard from God by his spirit about the circumstances, we can ask correctly.
  •  He says, conditionally, IF you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you can ask whatever you wish and it will be granted.
  •  Many of us are frustrated because we don’t know what to ask or we can’t seem to get God to do what we want Him to do.
  •  James, half brother of Jesus, understood the heart of man in James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
  •  You cannot have right motives until you have embraced the presence of God.
  •  You can know neither the truth of  your circumstances or God’s plan for that circumstance until you have heard from Him.
  •  Then, and only then, can you pray in his will.
  •  Reggie Weems tweeted this quote this week, “God’s will is exactly what I would want if I only knew better.”
  •  The only way to know better is to live with an awareness of His presence and allow him to speak into your deal, whatever that is.
  •  I know, it is hard for us. We want what we want.
  •  “The heart wants what the heart wants” – Woody Allen in defending his affair with his wife’s adopted daughter.
  •  Terrible defense, but true.
  •  Only when we are present with God and hearing his living word can what we want change.
  •  Then, we are ready to ask.

 

4. The purpose of prayer is ultimately to bring glory to God – not to change his mind.

  •  This is to my Father’s glory….
  •  When we pray in His will, saturated in His presence, having heard his word, our will is his will, and what we ask happens.
  •  The result is a fruitful prayer life that demonstrates to those around us that we really are disciples.
  •  Remember last week…our goal is to be disciples – fully devoted followers of Christ.
  •  Will not happen until we embrace his presence, hear his word, and pray in his will.
  •  So, lets go upstream today and ask this final question:
  •  What has to change for you to embrace his presence?
    •  Do you need to make a commitment to be a Christ follower?
    •  Do you need to turn down the volume of your life? Are you just too busy?
    •  Is there sin that keeps you from sensing His presence though we know he sees it?
    •  What keeps you from being fruitful in prayer?

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