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Posts Tagged ‘Romans’

To hear this past weeks sermon click the following link.

It Is It Isn’t Sermon

Working through this series on “Hearing God”, it doesn’t take long to realize that a great deal of scripture wrestles with this very topic.  Isn’t that what each story seems to share, God speaking to people and how people respond to that word?  As a matter of fact hearing God is so central to the message of God that God deemed it vital to embody his word.  Sometimes people wonder why “the Word become flesh” is important.  I think about it like this; people I really want to get to know, I want to talk to them in person.  Conversations that are very important, I want to have them in person.  God’s desire is relationship, for only through his relationship are we truly whole. When we talk about “hearing God”, we are essentially talking about a healthy relationship with God.

This past week we explored the fear many people have of being alone and briefly on some of the ways we attempt to make up for that deficiency.  We heard the good news in Romans 8, that in Christ, we are never alone.  Dallas Willard, essentially, was the outline for this past weeks sermon and he in his book “Hearing God” drives this point home, that we are made for relationship with God and it is his nature to draw us to him.  There were also a couple of really great points he made.  One point he makes is that if we look at scripture such as Romans 8:35, Psalm 16, and Psalm 23, the promises made are not that bad things will never happen to us, but that no matter what comes at us we are still beyond genuine harm because God is present with us.

That begs the question of what “general harm” is.  I shared the example Sunday that when a home is broken into the most upsetting thing that happens to the home owner is not the loss of their stuff, but the loss of their security.  Essentially, the soul has been violated.  Some thing with abusive language, manipulated feelings, disrespect for another person, etc.  What scripture is saying, what God is saying, is that let me guide you in your value and I can heal you from all violations.

So what does all of this have to do with hearing God?  Well, the only way to receive the benefits of a relationship (with anyone) is to actually participate in the relationship.  The only way for us to discover this peace is to find ourselves with the peace maker (I don’t mean Smith and Wesson).  We are called by God to be in a conversational relationship with him.  Exodus 19:6 and Rev. 1: 5-6, both say that we are called to be a priesthood to the nations.  Let me “de-religion” that for you.  We are called to be co-workers with God.  Living a life of lifting up, creating, caring, loving, healing, making whole, building relationships.  The Gospel of John says that Jesus calls us friends.    So we are called to be friends and called to work along side God.  This means we are called to be engaged in the business of God.

The funny thing about that last sentence is that so many people interpret that as meaning we are all called to be pastors.  Why is that funny?  Because, really, yes the job of a pastor is about God’s work but only a portion of it.  As a matter of fact, the job of the pastor is to get you to work along side God in whatever it is that you do.  I think we get confused about hearing God and discerning his will because we limit our understanding of God’s desires.  Our actions indicate that the pinnacle of our week is Sunday Worship, that we are working for that day.  We act like we are doing God a favor by going to to church.  This is a lot like telling a friend that you are going to do him a favor by eating the food in his fridge.  You are helping him clean the fridge out and helping him not waste food.

The reality is that worship on Sunday’s is the beginning of the week and it here we remind ourselves that we want to be about the business of God because that is where life is.  Then both you and I go into the rest of the week and we work with God.  Ahh, but what work is that?  This is where we drop the ball.  Some o us wonder what God’s will is for every second of the day and we become immobilized.  Others of us just ignore it because we think it is impossible to hear God.  The big problem is that the best way to hear God is to work with him, but many are saying how can I work with him if I can’t hear him.

I have the solution.  Ok, I have a way to practice listening to God by what you are doing.  Can you tell the difference between good and bad?  Someone does something that really annoys you… got it in your head… now bad would be to say what you were really thinking out loud.  Good would be to say nothing…. well, that’s a start.  Really good would be when you started to think that thought, you pray for them, yourself and the situation (probably a prayer in your head, they may freak out if you put a hand on their shoulder and…) Another example are the potential acts of goodness all around and you know what they are.  It doesn’t have to have scripture attached to it to be holy.  These are starting places and as you do them, try to see Christ.  This combined with reading scripture and daily asking God to reveal himself to you will be fruitful in your walk with God.  You will begin to learn to hear him.  Then when you learn to hear him in the little things, discerning prayer for the big moves in your life will make more sense.

Later, I will share some of Dallas Willard’s thoughts on some of the mistakes we make in listening to God, but in the mean time, seek him out in scripture, community, and learning how to see with the eyes of Christ.

Last Sunday’s Music and Video Clips

  1. Awesome Is The Lord Most High
  2. Jesus Messiah
  3. Revelation Song
  4. I Will Rise

Mother’s Day clips

  1. I’m Sorry Mom
  2. You’re the Reason

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I am a well balanced person.  I know you must be thinking, “we know how brilliant you are, there is no need to broadcast it”.  But seriously, if there is one thing I have going for me it is balance.  Ok, maybe not complete balance in all things, but there is one area of my life I hold good balance.  Decision making.  I have made great decisions; such as learning to play the guitar, traveling in a band, joining the gym.  I have made equally poor decisions; such as doing a flip out of a tall tree into cold water only to land on my face, jumping off a 75 ft cliff into cold water landing on the opposite of my face, purchasing the ab roller and slider.  These are just the minor decisions in my life.  What I have noticed while reflecting on the history of my decision making are the number of times I have attempted to bring God into the decision making process.  There is the, ‘Lord, help me decide” prayers, the “Lord, help me now that I have messed up” prayers, and the ever popular “Lord if it is your will then send me a sign” prayer, just to name a few.

Reflecting on many of my prayers, I realized that my relationship with God was not nearly as balanced as the results of my decisions.  I mentioned in last weeks sermon that how we communicate with God says a lot about our relationship with God.  Is God just my benefactor, simply someone to supply my needs and make my decisions, or am I in a relationship with him?  What do we mean when we want to hear from God.  I can’t tell you how many times I prayed the “if it’s your will prayer” for things as little as a date.  Was I really listening for God’s will or just willing that person to say yes?  I wonder how many times I was attempting to hear from God only to justify my own decision, or to get off the hook for making the decision.  The problem, often times, is not with our desire to know God’s will for our life but in what we mean by it.

Hearing from God is something that God offers to us in the very nature of how he made us, but in that make up, our hearing doesn’t exclude our freedoms nor God’s.  Many times what we mean by listening to God is that we want God to justify what we already want, or to relieve us from responsibility of an action, or to give credibility to a future move.  It is much easier to say, “God wants us to build this gym” than it is to say, “based upon our mission to make disciples for Christ and be in community with all kinds of people and the recognized need in the community for an affordable recreation center, we think building a ‘life center’ would be a great way for us to accomplish all of this.”  Sometimes people think it diminishes our faith and relationship when we start to use ‘reason’ in our decisions.  But I think both ways of working have potential to diminish our faith if they are not coupled with daily relationship with God.  Hearing God is just that, relationship with God.  A relationship that does not restrict the freewill of God nor his desire for us to be in a free relationship with him.

What we will explore this Sunday is some of what hearing God is and isn’t and how hearing God is connected with our relationship with Him.  There is a freedom God has to offer us, even in how we pray, that draws us deeper into his love which in turns frees us to live a deeper life.

The Scripture we will be looking at is Romans 8:35-39.  The question posed by Paul in this passage is “who can keep us separate from God”.  How does this fit in with “Hearing God”?  Let that be something for you to explore over the next day or two before Sunday, or Tuesday if you listen to the sermons.  How does hearing God keeps us embracing God?

To prepare for our worship this Sunday meditate and pray on the following;

  1. What do I expect to receive from God this weekend?
  2. What can He expect from me?
  3. What are ways I have refused his grace and offers of Life this past week? (how have I ignored God)
  4. What are ways I have embraced them? (how have I seen God)
  5. Ask God to prepare your life (heart) for renewal and the courage to live out that life.
  6. Ask God to soften your spirit so that you might receive and respond to the work he desire to do in your life and those around you.
  7. Pray for me and those who serve on Sunday morning that we might be examples of Christ’s presence.

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