Posted by: pastortomvabeach | January 16, 2013

Thought for the Week January 20, 2013

Our staff attended the Potomac District annual day of prayer in Richmond last week. The overriding theme of the day was to affirm our commitment as Christians to the great need we have for prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit. In this age of marketing, technology, and catering to needs of the undecided, it is very easy to get ao swept up in the rush to employ the best practices, to fine tune ministries, and to emulate the most successful churches, that we forget that Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.”

While I believe that we must be current in our methods, we must never get the idea that we can win the lost, grow our churches, or bring glory to God apart from complete dependence on a foundation of prayer and the active presence of the Holy Spirit in everything that we do.

Our District Superintendent and a very good friend and mentor, Rev. Ken Burtram lead us in the prayer meeting and shared an important account from the book of Exodus that we would all be wise to remember. In Exodus 33, after Moses had returned from receiving the Ten Commandments to find that Aaron had succumbed to the cries of the Israelites and made a golden calf to represent God, after Moses had pulverized the golden calf, after a plague had come upon the Israelites the Lord spoke to Moses about the future of the children of Israel.

In my paraphrase of Exodus 33:1-3 God said, “Take all these people and get out of here. Take them into the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I’ll even send an angel with you and conquer all the inhabitants of the land and it will be a fruitful land for you. But I will not go with you because all of you are so stubborn and I might just wipe you out on the way.”

Did you hear what God said? You can have the land. I’ll make sure that you win supernaturally. It will be all I said it will be. Wow! What more could they ask? Everything in life was going to be good, only, only, God was not going with them. So what good is everything in life if God is not with us?

Moses answered later in the chapter when he got alone with God. In 33:15, Moses said, If your presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here. In other words, Moses said it’s better if we just camp here in the desert and stay put with the presence of God than if we go into all we’ve ever dreamed of without Him. Is Moses wrong? Isn’t he supposed to take the Israelites into the promised land? Would he fail them by refusing to go as God commanded?

If you are thinking only in terms of today and the earth and what we can do here. If you are only looking for the good life, as temporary as it may be, maybe Moses is wrong. But if you think like he did, again in my paraphrase, “How will anyone know that you care for us, if you don’t go with us? The thing that makes us special, distinctive, and different from the world is not all the stuff we have but the fact that you are with us.” (Exodus 33:16)

Dear friend, may I suggest to you that what makes you and me different than the world is not the size of our church facilities, the contemporary appeal of our worship, the unique ways we attract people, the quality of our ministries. Neither is it distinctive that we have comfortable lives with all that the world has to offer in temporal terms. The one and only thing that makes Christians special and different is the presence of God in our lives, in our gatherings, and in our efforts to serve the communities in which we live. God has promised to live in our hearts, to inhabit our worship, and to empower our efforts if we depend on Him. We can make a whole lot of noise without the presence of God but we can’t do anything of any eternal significance by making noise.

We need the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts and the hearts of our unchurched friends so that we are motivated to turn to and trust Jesus with every part of life. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us into those areas and situations in which He wants to manifest His love, grace, and power be it through salvation, healing, teaching, or touching in compassion. We need to pray fervently, regularly on our own and in our gatherings as if every step we take, every word we say, every effort we make depends only and always on God and His presence. It is only after we have prayed that we should then work as if it depends on us because then we have invited God to empower the work.

How much have you aligned your life in a way that says, Father, if you are not with me, if you don’t go alongside, I don’t want to go? Living, serving, and working like this is what enabled the early church to turn the world upside down. It marked every major move of God since Jesus came and will surely characterize His people in whatever last days revival He decides to send. I want to be part of that. Will you resolve in your heart along with me to pray and ask God for His presence to always stay with us? What do you think?

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