Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; 2nd Message in a Series about Testimonies and Testifying About our Faith

This coming Sunday we will talk about recognizing God’s presence and guidance in our daily activities.

Scripture for this Sunday is Luke 24:13-32. You can read it at this link {Click Me}

An interesting article about experiences of God can be found on this page on CNN blog: {A page on CNN blog titled, My Take: If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) aren’t crazy}.
I stumbled on this while doing my research for Sunday Message.

 

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Testimony is a recounting of a religious experience to others; it is a profession of our experience of God.

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Ideally a testimony begins with God, describes how we are changed through that interaction and how we have grown closer to God because of that experience. A testimony begins with God, and points towards God.

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Before we can share a testimony, it only makes sense that we ourselves experience and recognize an encounter with God. I know that all of us encounter God in our daily lives; I also know that most of us do not recognize these experiences because we live in a culture that is immersed in rational explanations for everything.

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We are preprogrammed to seek scientific and psychological answers, and by and large we distrust claims of a religious or spiritual nature. That makes it difficult to discern whether we are experiencing God or reacting to our own expectations and predictions.

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To begin with, experiences of God are rarely what we imagine them to be. We hope for a booming voice, or a hair-raising miracle, or, my personal favorite, a quick and painless solution to all of life’s problems. We base these on a cursory reading of Jesus’ healings and miracles, Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus’ resuscitations of Tabitha and Lazarus, Daniel surviving the lions’ den, or Paul being freed from jail by an earthquake. Most of us do not experience anything like that.

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What we experience is that God typically touches our lives in a way that is personal and very often private.

NIV2010 1 Kings 19: 11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

So let’s unpack all that. First of all, what fills your heart and soul?

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NIV2010 Matthew 6: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. …

24No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

God will not break in on your text message conversation or Facebook account. If you constantly fill your head with noise, God will not compete with that noise. If you fill your soul with trash, God does not want to live in a pile of trash.

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In Proverbs we are instructed to approach God with respectful awe:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV)

The word “fear” in this verse is not used as in “I am quaking in my boots” but in a sense of respect and reverence.

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God is not a genie, or a butler, or our personal customer service department. For me to hear God, I must give God the glory, honor, and respect that God deserves. To recognize God’s presence, I need an open and receptive mind. For God to speak to us we must give God opportunities to speak, and then we must be prepared to listen and to discern. That happens mostly through prayer, but can also happen through other means.

Just as we would not expect an intimate conversation with someone we just met, we should not expect God to speak with us until we have established a meaningful relationship with God in the person of Jesus.

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In my experience, the voice of God is unmistakable. God speaks with power and authority. When I experience God, that experience fills every nook and cranny of my soul; it feels genuine, personal and authoritative. But this is not the same for everyone, God speaks to each of us differently.

I KNOW that there are other ways of experiencing God: through people and through circumstances. God often uses people as messengers or instruments, which is a common theme in the Bible. Throughout your life God will move others to help you, to encourage you, and draw you closer to him.

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God does not micromanage our lives. While it’s true that God is concerned about the minor details of our lives, it is somewhat silly to believe that getting a free hamburger from Red Robin or a Dilly Bar from Dairy Queen is a sure sign of God’s favor. Sometimes good things just happen.

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And then there are events that have no logical explanation. Do you know anyone who managed to walk away from a terrible traffic accident without a scratch? Do you know someone who got a job against incredible odds? Do you know of someone who was physically cured of an illness after family and friends prayed for them? Do you know someone who did not get physically cured, but found God’s Grace and was able to die peacefully?

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Often God has a vision for our lives that is much better than anything that we can even imagine. Do you know someone whose prayers went unanswered and only in hindsight did they recognized that God was working in their lives doing something different?

Experiencing God is an intimate and personal process that requires patience and takes time. The more you and I surrender ourselves to God, the stronger is our relationship with Jesus, the more the Holy Spirit will move in each of our lives. We cannot force this process. God works in God’s own time and in God’s own way.

I said earlier that God is active in all of our lives. I also said that we are preconditioned to try to explain our interactions with God as coincidences or with natural laws. But once we start recognizing how God feels, and how God interacts in our lives, we will see him everywhere. You will be stunned at the depth of God’s love for you, and your life will never, ever be the same.

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Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and the founder and director of Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said once that, “God comes to us disguised as our life.”

When the two men from the Road to Emmaus story recognized their companion was Jesus, they immediately dropped everything and went back to Jerusalem to tell the Disciples about their experience. God came into their lives in the midst of loss, pain, fear, frustration, anger, anxiety. God redeemed all these emotions into hope, understanding and vision.

It is such experiences in our lives that result in powerful testimonies: your ability to say, “God did this in my life…” Powerful testimonies are not about what we do, or how smart we are, or how dedicated we are. Powerful testimonies are about how God has changed our lives. Powerful testimonies bring hope and encouragement, to us and to others. Powerful testimonies are about building up lives and character.

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