Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘The Presence of God

Nothing Prepared Me For This

Nothing prepares you for dealing with the loss of a loved one to death.  Nothing.  You can read the Bible.  You can contemplate death and heaven and eternal life but it still does not prepare you for when they are gone.  That has been my experience.  Each person grieves differently.  When my dad lost his mama to death, he cried very little.  I, on the other hand, have cried every day since she went to heaven.  My daddy rarely spoke of his mama after she died.  I can’t stop talking about her nor thinking about her.

In my spirit I know where my mama is.  I know that she is now in the presence of Jesus and that she is free from the pain that was coming upon her from cancer.  I know that my mama doesn’t need her glasses.  She can hear again perfectly.  She can walk without need of a cain.  The tumors are gone.  I know all this but I still want my mama.  I want to hear her voice again.  I want to tell her I love her just one more time.  I want her to say she is proud of the man I am.  I want her to see my boys grow up. I want to celebrate her birthday with her.  I want her to be here for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I want to walk and hold her hand again.  I want to kiss her and tell her that I am proud of the mama she was.

I can tell you that nothing prepared me for this.  When my mama was slowly dying I tried to convince myself what it would be like when she was gone.  It didn’t work.

Yet the reality is that I have the Lord near.  He has proven Himself faithful.  Each and every time I have wept for my mama, I have sensed His presence near.  I have a friend who is terrified of charismatics and I could tell when I told him that I sensed the Lord near to me and even that I believe He was telling me that He would never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), I could tell he was bothered.  I don’t care.  I love the Lord’s presence near me right now.  I love that He is with us during our trials and during our griefs.  I love Hebrews 4:15 that reads in the KJV,

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

I love how it says that Jesus is touched by our infirmities.  He knows my pain.  Jesus Himself grieved over His friend Lazarus (John 11:35, 38).  I believe Jesus perfectly understands my pain.  Nothing could prepare me for this but certainly Jesus can help me get through this.  His promises give me hope and I will trust Him through this (James 1:2-5).

Oh how I need Him now!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/12/2012 at 9:33 AM

Experiencing the Presence of God

I am all for sound doctrine.  I agree with Paul in 1 Timothy 4:16 when he wrote that we should watch our lives and doctrine closely (NIV).  He tells us to “persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”  Yet I think that sadly too many people these days have confused sound doctrine for the presence of the Lord.  They have come to believe that if they believe the right things, that is sufficient to carry them through.  They never come into prayer believing that God will come into the room where they are and fellowship with them by His Spirit.  They know that the Holy Spirit is with them cognitively but not experientially.

Some will, at this point, say that I am arguing now for experiences and yes I am.  There have been times in my life where the Spirit of God has come into the place where I was whether it might be in a prayer meeting or a time of singing or a Bible study or even alone in my prayer closet crying out to Him, I have experienced the presence of God.  I can’t write on this blog and explain what His presence is like.  I could write about joy and His presence or weeping in His presence or repenting in His presence as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6:5.  Words cannot describe what I have felt or experienced when the Lord has come into my presence.  I only know that I do believe that the Lord has been with me and at times has touched me as only He can touch us.

I think of Paul in his final prison in 2 Timothy and I read his words in 2 Timothy 4:17 and I marvel at what he writes.  I believe that Paul experienced the presence of God in that dark moment.  All had forsaken him but Paul wrote that the Lord stood with him and gave him strength.  Certainly Paul understood that Jesus is with us always in the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20) but in this case, I believe that the Lord showed up in glory to help Paul finish his race.  Theologically, Paul knew that God was with him (Romans 8:38-39) but in this case, I believe he experienced the presence of God to help him and give him strength as he faced his final hours.  Soon he would see Jesus face to face (2 Timothy 4:8; cf. Philippians 1:21).

All this is about this, do we want to experience God when we seek Him?  I am convinced most people do not.  Sometimes we visit a traditional church near our home and frankly, it’s a dead church.  They have no prayer meetings.  They have a prayer room but use it for storage.  The sermons are expository sermons but they lack any unction from God.  The music is dreadful.  The air is never filled with an awe of God, an awe of His presence, no weeping or repenting, no confessing sin openly, no crying out to Jesus.  People sometimes will go down front for prayer but they bow at an altar for a moment and then quickly get back to their seats.  The “services” are always the same and always end at 11:30 AM.  This is an evangelical church with a strong Calvinist bent (though I don’t think it’s entirely Calvinism that causes this church to be so dead) and yet no hunger for the presence of God that I can tell at least from the leadership.  Ironically, the pastor was preaching on worship and he said and I quote, “We want to be excited about Jesus when we come together to worship.  I mean not charismatics but excited.”  What does that mean?  I am guessing he meant theologically he doesn’t want to be a charismatic but wants to be excited about the Lord just not that excited?  Perhaps he thinks that charismatics are fleshly and he doesn’t want to be in the flesh during singing?  I am not sure.

I do believe we can worship Jesus without all the hype.  Just because you dance or wave a flag or lift your hands doesn’t mean that you are a true disciple of Jesus.  Jesus rebuked the Jews in Mark 7:5-8 for honoring God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.  It is possible to be verbal in our praise to God and our hearts be far from Him.  This can run either way.  We can be jumping up and down and screaming or sitting in utter silence during times of praise and yet our hearts can be far from the Lord.  Only God sees our hearts and He does always (2 Timothy 2:19).

Yet give me jumping, weeping, clapping, singing joyfully, praying in earnest and expectation that God can and does do miracles over dead, lifeless, boring Christianity any day.  David Wilkerson use to say, “I would rather be around wild-fire than no fire.”  You can maintain wild-fire after a while.  It is no fire that produces dead, cold Christianity.

Perhaps you read this and think I have gone off the deep end.  I haven’t.  I just want Jesus’ presence.  Don’t you ever get tired of reading about God and never experiencing Him?  Don’t you ever read passages such as 2 Timothy 4:17 and wonder how the presence of God could help Paul find strength and comfort during his final hours on earth?  Don’t you wonder how the words of Jesus in John 14:18 and wonder how these words could be comfort to them if not for His presence?  Have you ever truly experienced the presence of Jesus?  I know that all this is subjective and you could argue that you don’t want a subjective faith but an objective, intellectual faith but I assure you, there is nothing like the presence of God.  Words are not enough to describe the joy I have when I get on my face to pray and His Spirit comes and abides with me.  Like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:17, His presence lifts me up and helps me press on in this race.

Oh how I want the presence of God always in my life!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/02/2012 at 7:23 AM

Boredom and Prayer Meetings

When I was in college, my fellow students could not understand how I could find a Friday night prayer meeting at a brother’s house exciting.  Friday nights were for movies, eating out, hanging out, playing basketball, etc. but not prayer meetings.  How boring to go in a guy’s living room and just get on our faces and sing a few songs with the guitars and then pray for several hours.  Often we would pray into the late night.  How could I possibly find that fun?  Even as I write this, I have a smile on my face at the delight that came from those prayer meetings.  What joy we had!  What laughter we had!

I believe, and this may be harsh, that many who would view a prayer meeting as boring have never truly encountered the presence of God.  I am not saying that these people are not saved but they lack the experience of being in the very presence of God.  They lack the understanding of the joy that comes from being in His presence.  Why would I want to trade a night of being in God’s holy presence with watching a movie?  Why would I want to trade being in the presence of God with eating at a restaurant?  Why would I want to trade the presence of God for anything this world has to offer?  There is nothing to compare to His presence.  Moses found out in Exodus 33:14 that God’s presence gives us rest.  How we need rest!

Consider the wonder of God’s presence.  In Scripture God made it clear that His presence is something to strive for.  In Deuteronomy 20:1 God told the children of Israel that He would be with them in the day of battle.  I need that.  I can’t defeat my flesh nor the enemy by my own power.  I need His presence (Romans 7:25; 8:11; Galatians 5:16-17) to help me fight my battles.

In Isaiah 43:2 God again promises us that He will be with us when we face even the toughest trials.  A time may come when the doctors tell me I have this or that but I pray that I never lose my hunger for God’s presence for in that day I will surely need the knowledge that He is with me until the end.

Even when it comes to evangelism, we have the wonderful promise from Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 that He will be with us till the end of the age.  As we are going out into a dark world, Jesus is with us.  His presence abides with us and we can have the assurance of Acts 1:8 that He empowers us through His Spirit to help us make disciples for His glory.

But more than just the Scriptures on God’s presence.  I want to go beyond mere head knowledge of His presence to knowing times where He has been near.  Prayer meetings are those places for me.  I find such delight to be in the presence of God in prayer.  There is nothing like being in a room with other disciples and crying out to God.  In those moments, you could offer me the world and I believe I would decline it for in His presence is the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).  To be in His presence is paradise itself (Luke 23:43).  Words are not enough to express the delight that comes when the presence of God falls on a prayer meeting.  We begin to cry out for God’s glory to be revealed among the nations.  We begin to cry out for the lost to be saved.  We begin to cry out for justice to flow from His throne.  We begin to cry out for the gospel to take root in the Church and in our lives. Somehow, when God’s presence comes, we align ourselves up with what His agenda may be.

And yet if you have never had those moments of knowing God is present not just in basic biblical understanding (yes He is with me) to really knowing and experiencing His presence, you are lost as you read this.  You probably think that I am a nut for seeking God’s presence or that I have lost my mind or that I am emotional.  In reality, I am not.  I wish I could cry like some do in God’s presence.  I wish I could go deeper in my emotions with the Lord but I am largely not an emotional guy.  But I do long and love God’s presence.  There is noting that can compare.

So if your prayer meetings are boring and if you are one who is reading this who thinks that the thought of spending a Friday night (or any other time) in prayer is boring then you have yet to truly encounter the presence of Christ.  When He walks among you, you’ll know He is there.  I would admit that many, many, many prayer meetings have been boring but not the ones I have been to where all the disciples in the room wanted one thing and that was God.  In those prayer meetings, God has always been faithful to show up.  Always.  His presence has invaded our hearts and His presence leads us.  When we are done praying, time has been standing still.  We were undone in His presence.  I would encourage you, if you have yet to experience what I am writing about, to pray and seek God for His presence.  Seek Him for who He is and not what you can get from Him.  Lavish Him with your love, praise, obedience, and worship.  Pour out your soul before Him.  Make Him your delight.  Allow Him to touch you however He needs to touch you.  Just long for His presence!

Oh God give us Your presence!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/05/2012 at 8:00 AM

Experience Does Often Outweigh Objectiveness

Whenever I have taught in a church meeting on the subject of the existence of God, I often mention the standard ways that we know there is a God such as creation, special revelation in the Bible, and the ultimate revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ.  But I often go one step further and speak on prayer and the existence of God.  Some atheists would contend that answered prayer is nothing more than chance.  But I personally have experienced answered prayers and this reality, this experience leads me to believe that there is a God in heaven.  It’s like the atheist who lived next door to an old praying woman.  One day the atheist heard the woman praying, “Oh God please provide food for me.”  The atheist got up, went to the market and bought the woman some food.  He took the food to her door, knocked on the door and when she opened he gave her the food.  She began to thank Jesus for the food.  The atheist said, “I heard you praying and it was I who gave you this food and not God.”  The woman then rejoiced and said, “Thank you Lord that you even used the devil to provide the food for me!”

Answered prayer is a powerful experience.  How God answers prayer is beyond me.  I don’t know why He chooses to answer some prayers but not all.  He does all things for His own purpose and glory and we are to pray this way (1 John 5:14-15).  Prayer is not a “give me this and give me that” religious chore that we do.  Prayer is praise unto God where we praise Him and also acknowledge that we need Him in our lives.  Yet James tells us in James 4:2 that we do not have because we do not ask.  In James 4:3 he goes on to say that when we do ask, we ask with wrong motives focusing on ourselves and our pleasures and not to honor the Lord.  God answers prayer to exalt His great name.  He doesn’t answer prayer because He merely is there for us to ask.  He answers prayers that He wants to answer and in His own timing.

Experience then does go a long ways.  The fact that I have been in the presence of God before where I sensed He was so near or the fact that I have read His Word and His Spirit opened my eyes to His truths or the fact that the Holy Spirit has convicted me of sin or the fact that I have experienced answered prayers proves to me that there is a God.  Certainly I base my salvation upon the Word of God but I also have experienced the new birth (John 3:3-7).  I have experienced being baptized into Jesus (Acts 2:38-39).  I have experienced becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).  I know what its like to lay my head down when I sleep and sense that not only is God near me but that He loves me and that He gives me peace.  I have walked through dark hills only to be led by the Spirit of God every step of the way (Psalm 23:4).

I would agree that experience should be based upon objective reality and the objective truth for the disciple is the Word of God.  We should always take our experiences to the Scriptures and examine them by the Word of God.  Just because we “feel” something doesn’t make it truthful or even godly.  We should always run to the Word of God and seek to build our lives and our experiences upon its everlasting truth (John 17:17).

Yet praise God that He allows us to experience Him.  I have experienced His showers of blessings in seasons of intense prayer.  I have wept as He has been near.  I have been full of the peace of God even as I faced challenges.  I have prayed and know that God filled me with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).  I praise God that He is not far away from us but He is right here with us till the very end and then when I die, I get to see Him face to face and glorify His name for eternity (1 John 3:1-3).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/23/2011 at 4:49 AM

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