Friday, October 05, 2007
3 Christian Essentials In Georgia
My trip to Georgia was terrific for all the right reasons. Because there are sons and daughters of God there who are growing in the knowledge of God and His incredible grace to them in Christ, a lot of preparation work had been done to make the trip most beneficial.
Translation: I spoke eight times in six days to people hungry for the life of God.
On Sunday morning, I met with the good people of Midtown Church. There I raised what I think are three essential questions: 1. Where is God? 2. How can I find Him? 3. How can I let Him do what He wants?
The stunning reality is that for those who have received Christ, God is now within! He has made a home in you.
Together we looked at the following passages:
1 Cor 3:16-17 “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”
Heading out into your day, have you ever thought, "Well, here I go--God's sacred mobile home."? No? Well, you are. At least, He thinks you are. Do you agree with him? It might be a good idea.
Luke 17:20-21 “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you.’”
Col 1:27 “To them (to the saints, to the select) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Italics mine.)
When God convinces those who have received Him that they have actually received Him, their eyes are opened…and they’ll begin to look for Him who lives within. Most often we look for God over there, but not so much for God in here. But we can.
Time to have a look, don’t you think?
2. How can I find Him?
For this we looked to Galatians 5:16-25, where Paul writes of the struggle within—the conflict between the Holy Spirit and the flesh. Until the believer makes a believing choice to sow to the Holy Spirit, now within him, the flesh will produce its’ awful brand of behavior. The flesh, that part of us which offers a way of living, the result of which means living without the life of God, influences or produces behavior through us—unholy sexual activity, hatred, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, drunkenness, and more—it will be obvious when we’ve been sowing toward it. The most obvious thing will be that we won’t be knowing or feeling or hearing or sensing God, who now lives within.
When once we believe God is now within us, we’ll want to give Him something to do—take Him off inner unemployment! By sowing toward Him, especially when feeling His conflict with the flesh, we will know Him—we’ll feel His work go on in us. How will that look? How will that feel? It’s everything you want, only it’s His to bring about: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:23,23)
After believing that He is now within you, sowing toward Him—“I feel your conflict with the flesh, Holy Spirit. What do you think? What do you feel? Is there anything you’d like me to know? Say? Do?”—will bring about His life, the life you’re supposed to know and experience. This is what the kingdom of God is about, the Kingdom Jesus said would be “within you.” It is! (Luke 17:21) What He chooses to manifest or produce in you is up to Him—it can be challenging to leave it to Him. If He produces peace when you’d rather have something intelligent and powerful to say, remember—it’s God! Believing that He is acting within you, be satisfied with what He produces. After all, you’ll be finding and knowing God.
The flesh effectively says, “Manage yourself…and you’ll get what you want.” However, no you won’t—not really—you won’t know God! And knowing Him is way better. So, feel the conflict and pay attention to it. Know why it’s there (the Holy Spirit and the flesh are in competition), and offer yourself (sow) to the Spirit. If we sow to the flesh from the flesh we’ll reap destruction, but if we sow to the Spirit from the Spirit we’ll reap eternal life! (Gal 6:8)
We've been made for life.
Romans 8:12-17 “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature (flesh), to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature (flesh), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Italics mine.)
3. How can I let Him do what He wants?
Paul knew that it’s all in the offering.
Rom 6:13, 14 “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
How do I do that? How do I offer myself to Him? Well, first believe that He is now within you. You’re not just offering yourself to God out there, but you’re offering yourself to God in here! To believe that He lives in you is a tremendous point of faith—it’s great, and He loves it.
Here’s what I do.
In my day, throughout my day, during virtually anything, I pause. I take a faith-filled pause to feel Him, know Him, hear Him. I might quickly think something like, “I know where you are, God…I want to find you in me…and I want to let you do whatever you want in me. What are your thoughts? Your feelings? I offer my hands and eyes to you for whatever you desire, even if it isn't to use them.” Throughout those thoughts toward God, I pause to listen and feel and think. By that I get to know Him.
This removes the burden of having to tailor myself at every moment, whatever the circumstance I’m in. If I don’t have to come up with the just-right thing to say, the just-right thing to do, the just-right way to look in order to get what I want, the pressure is off me and I’m free to know God.
Surprisingly, I do know Him, just as He said I would.
(Much of this message was culled from material also found in my book, Better Off Than You Think—God’s Astounding Opinion of You. Click here for more information, or go to our ministry web site at http://lifecourse.org, and click on “Ralph’s Book.)