Practicing The Presence Of God

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Isaiah chapter six opens with one of the most astounding statements in Scripture as we find Isaiah is literally standing in the presence of God!

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Verse two quickly whisks our attention away to the details of the story.

It’s important for us to know about the wings of the seraphim, the doorposts shaking, and the smoke in the temple. It’s all too incredible!

Did we mention that Isaiah is standing in the presence of God!

The scene continues to unfold as Isaiah interacts with an angel. Again more details, was it one of the angel’s from above the throne or was it another angel, what did the coal represent theologically?

By the way, Isaiah is standing in the presence of God!

And we can’t forget some of the most recognized words in Christianity, “Who will go?” “Here am I Lord send me!”
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Oh and did we mention; Isaiah is standing in the presence of God?

We have to wonder, how many of the struggles we face in life come from the fact that we are so concerned with the details of life, that we miss the presence of God in our lives?

Are we more awestruck by the angel, the smoke and the coal, than we are with the thought of being in His presence?

We devour the theological or biblical truths to be gained, but they are useless without His presence!

The most troubling part of this story is that as Christians, we live our lives in the presence of God, yet we seldom experience His presence.

Three things from this story that can distract us from the presence of God in our lives.

1.     Our Present

Our focus on the details of Isaiah’s story should serve as a warning to us. It is very easy to get so distracted by the external circumstances of our lives, that we overlook the work that God is wanting to do within us.

It would be so much easier if God’s presence was an app we could download. But if our desire is to be in God’s presence, it will require the full attention of our presence.

We must look past our present if we are to experience God’s presence.

2.     Our Past

P2Isaiah was sure he was doomed! He understood that what came out his lips was a reflection of what was in his sinful heart. He was basically saying, “I’m a sinner! There is no way I can survive being in the presence of God!”

Our past tells us that we are not worthy to be in the presence of God, and on our own, we are not. But because of what Christ did, we are! In Christ, we have been cleansed!

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

We don’t have to fear being in God’s presence and we never will!

3.     Our Purpose

Sometimes we don’t sense God’s presence because we are avoiding it. We don’t want to hear what God has to say.

Most of us have experienced a time when our plans and God’s plans didn’t match up. While God’s calling and purpose in our lives cannot be ignored, we can do a pretty good job of avoiding it.

So many people have used Isaiah’s response to portray a great step of faith, but if Isaiah is witnessing the power and presence of God, how else is he going to respond?

When we are aware of the power and presence of God in our lives, obedience is the natural response to that presence.

The details of that day didn’t distract Isaiah. He was focused on one thing; he was in the presence of God! It’s not difficult to pay attention at a time like that.

How many of the details in our day to day lives distract us from the presence of God that dwells within us?

Write down three things that are distracting you from His presence today. Ask God to help you set them aside for a while so that you can enjoy His presence!

It’s All About The Sauce

In the world we have grown accustomed to, kindness has become such a rare commodity that we are gobstruck when we encounter it.

One of the joys of being a Grandparent is that you get to experience the wonders of life in a whole new way.
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If you have Grandchildren, you already know that Chicken McNuggets are a delicacy to be experienced! The key to making McNuggets so much more than just a meal, is the selection of a proper dipping sauce.

Choosing the wrong sauce can turn a good day into inconsolable sorrow, so great care must be exercised in the selection.

Last week on the way back from Silver Dollar City with our Grandsons, we made a stop at the McDonalds in Branson West. As we placed our orders, we hit a potential meltdown when the boys could not remember the name of the sauce they liked for the six piece banquet they had just ordered.

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Anticipating the customary impatient huff or rolled eyes from the girl taking the order, I was actually taken back by what I saw over the next few moments. With a patient and kind spirit she began to ask the boys several questions about their favorite sauce, eventually producing two possible choices to show them.

And the winner is – Sweet and Sour! The day was saved!

As we sat eating dinner (2 Filet-O-Fish for $5.00= SCORE!) I thought about what had just taken place and how refreshing it was. I made the point of speaking to the manager before we left to tell her what a great job the girl who waited on us had done. The manager seemed shocked that someone would actually say something positive.

There was nothing really extraordinary about what this young lady did, she was simply patient and kind. I would like to believe that she was a Christian and that her kind, tenderhearted actions were based in a verse similar to this:

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

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That night as I reflected on the day’s events, I was convicted about how many times a day I (we) miss the opportunity to make a similar impression on someone’s life by simply showing basic kindness and consideration.

Kindness might be patience with the customer service rep, speaking a kind word to the gas station attendant, or just bringing a little less stress to the bank tellers line. How often do we miss the opportunity to speak truth into someone’s life simply because we choose to be Jerks for Jesus rather than a reflection of Who and What He was?

We all have the ability to make a difference simply by showing the kindness that Christ has commanded us to give. Ephesians 4:32 wasn’t a suggestion or a point of reference!

What can you do starting right now, to show kindness to those God puts in your path?

Take the opportunity to completely freak someone out by being kind to them! They may even blog about you!

I Don’t Need Any Help I’ve Climbed Rocks Before

20160323_180223Over the last week we have been blessed to have all five of our grand kids together. For us it only happens about once every three years or so.

Last Monday was a gorgeous day and at our house that usually means a trip to the park. The highlight of any trip to the park is always rock climbing. The rock walls of a cave that collapsed many years ago provide a rock climbing paradise for anyone under the age of 12 (OK maybe under 60).

The crew made several warm up climbs eventually making our way to one of the more difficult climbs. We made two short pitches up and prepared for the third and final pitch to the top. Because the final stretch was somewhat challenging, being the world’s foremost authority on rock climbing (don’t tell them any different) I recommended the best foot holds and grips to get up the rock face in front of us.

IMG_1078Three of the five (using the wisdom bestowed upon them) quickly made it up the rock. One declared, “I don’t need any help, I have climbed rocks before!”

I watched for about 3 minutes as a struggle ensued that eventually resulted in a discouraged slump against the rock face. “Are you ready to listen,” I asked? Somewhat reluctantly the climb continued following the prescribed course.

That night as I reflected on the day’s events I thought, how many times does God have to bring us to the point that He asks, “Are you ready to listen?”

How often are we like a child struggling to get up the rock?

  1. We Think We Know Better Than God

My concern in pointing the way up the rock was not that I questioned the ability or strength of my grandchildren, my concern was for the safety of someone I loved. My way was the safest way up the rock to reduce the risk of falling.

God’s plan for our lives is set in place to give someone He loves the greatest chance of making it safely home one day. His way is not always risk free, or without scrapes and bruises, but it will always be in our best interest to follow it.

Proverbs 12:14 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

  1. We Think We Can Do It On Our Own

One of the greatest mistakes we could make in this life is to think that we can do anything on our own. We face needless struggles and frustration because we believe we are able to be independent.

Regardless of where we go or what we do, we will never escape our need for God and for community. Those who try will always wind up in a tough spot.

  1. We Don’t Care What God Has To Say

At the root of the issue on the rocks that day was an unwillingness to listen.

“Most Christians don’t hear God’s voice because we’ve already decided we aren’t going to do what He says.”  A. W. Tozer.

Can we be transparent enough to confess that sometimes the trouble and struggles we face come from the fact that we just don’t care what God has to say about our situation?

rock1After all, we have climbed rocks before haven’t we?

But we are blessed in the knowledge that regardless of how smart, how independent, and how unwilling we are to listen, God will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

He will always be there to guide us, direct us and lead us, but only when we are ready to listen.

What has God been trying to tell you? Are you ready to listen?