The Presence of God #9 July 24, 2018

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

For God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.  God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.  And God has chosen the base things of the world and things which are despised. Yes, and He chose things which did not exist to bring to nothing things that do, so that no flesh should boast in His presence.  I Cor. 1: 27-29

GodUnusual

Among the results of spending time in the presence of the Lord is one that we might prefer didn’t happen.  Sometimes we are just plain perplexed. What in the world is going on? we might ask.  Or, how did this happen? Or, the unexpected occurs and we say, Where did that come from?  Anybody been there? I sure have.

We may not like this but part of God’s “ways” includes that He does things that make no sense to us at all – at least at first.  Yet everything – and I mean, EVERYTHING – that He does or allows into our lives has one ultimate purpose: to conform us into the image and likeness of His dear Son.

Think of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

Think of Jesus choosing a tax collector to be one of His disciples.

Perplexing to the max!

One thing I’ve learned about God.  He loves to do the unexpected and with good reason. He offends our mind in order to reveal our hearts.

Read the history of some of the greatest revivals of past centuries and without exception, the ‘religious experts’ condemned them as emotionalism, fanaticism or just plain nonsense.  God doesn’t pay much attention to “religious experts”.

It is recorded that John Wesley was offended when George Whitefield went outside the church and preached in the fields to ordinary people. And when some of Whitefield’s converts jerked or made strange noises, Wesley considered that undeniable proof that Whitefield’s meetings were ‘not of God.’  Eventually, Wesley followed Whitefield into the fields and some of the same manifestations of God’s presence happened under his preaching.  Needless to say, Wesley was humbled.

God said of ancient Israel, “They have not known My ways.”  Hebrews. 3:10  Those who tend to see God’s ways only in light of His sovereignty, His majesty and His glory are often the first to criticize manifestations of the Holy Spirit that surprise or shock them.  Often the leaders of the last move of God are the critics of the ‘new’ move of God.  How easily we can get into a spiritual rut!

Unusual moves of the Spirit of God are one way that God humbles our sense of propriety and challenges our tendency to think of God in “our image” rather than our need to grow into His image.  We like a neat and respectable God in the neat and respectable box we’ve created for Him in our minds.

Sorry! God doesn’t like our boxes and operates outside of them all the time, never more than in this present season as we look for the soon appearing of the Lord.

When God shows up in ways you don’t expect, how do you react?  Is your first inclination to doubt that ‘this is God’?  If you’ve brought someone new to your church and the Holy Spirit moves in an unusual way, do you feel like you need to apologize for what happened? Are you ever inclined to reject the people who react in a manifest way to the presence and power of God in the midst of a worship service?

Jesus never apologized for saying that people were to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53), even when some of His followers reaction was to say, ‘This is a hard saying.’ (John 6:60)  It was so revolting to them that some walked away but Jesus didn’t panic, nor did He shout out to explain Himself or apologize.

When He proclaimed, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’ (John 2:19, everyone assumed He was talking about the building on the Temple Mount and they criticized Him harshly.  Jesus didn’t respond by saying, ‘Hold on, now. I’m talking about My resurrection from the dead, not about this building!’  (see John 2:21-22)  They were offended because what He said and many of the things He did, like healing on the Sabbath, didn’t fit in their religious box.  What they didn’t realize is that Jesus had never climbed into their box and He never would!

God is God and we are not.  We love to proclaim that ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ but subconsciously confine that declaration to the boundaries of our own understanding.  If nothing is impossible with Him – and that is the truth – then who are we to stand in judgment of how the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, chooses to deal with us, individually and as a community.

Application:

We are living in amazing times.  It is our privilege to be alive in this hour when the anticipation of the return of Jesus has never been higher.  Let us be very careful to remain humble, teachable and sincerely loving towards one another for the Spirit of the Lord is doing things in these days that were never done before; things that have specifically been reserved for the last generation at the end of days.

He has saved the best wine for last. Be thankful that you can drink in His presence.

 

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