Username:

Password:

Fargot Password? / Help

Tag: Voice

8

Guided by God's Presence

The Importance of Recognizing God's Presence

1 Kings 19:1-10(NKJV) - And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Elijah, the most powerful prophet of his time was scared. He had just pulled off one of the most improbable miracle in history. He called fire from heaven to douse a wet sacrifice in the world's first and only "Fire from Heaven Competition". Yet, he was so scared of Jezebel's words that he took off running. Don't forget that in 1 Kings 18, he outran the King's chariot so he probably took off pretty quickly. What's interesting to note is that The Bible doesn't show us anywhere if Jezebel actually sent anyone to pursue Elijah. Perhaps, she had nobody to send because he had a reputation for calling fire from heaven on people who came after him. Nevertheless, he did have one pursuer and that was God. In the worst season of his life, every time Elijah stopped to rest God was there. Under the broom tree, God fed him there. In the cave, God met him there. God valued Elijah so much that even though Elijah was straying from God's Will for his life, God still went after him.

1 Kings 19:11-13(NKJV) - Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God told Elijah to stand on the mountain before Him. He then conducted a simple exercise. He passed by and caused a powerful windstorm to hit the mountains, breaking rocks in pieces. However, even though He caused the windstorm, He was not in it. Then, He shook the ground with an earthquake but though He caused the earthquake, He was not in it. Then, He caused spontaneous combustion right before Elijah's eyes but though He caused the fire, He was not in it. Wait, what? How could God not be in the wind, earthquake or fire? He caused them, didn't He? Yes, He caused them, but God didn't want to direct Elijah with storms, earthquake and fire. He wanted to guide Elijah with His presence.

That's why The Bible said that God was not in them. It didn't say that God didn't speak through them which is what we typically extrapolate by reading between the lines. It said He was not in them. Hence, the writer placed the emphasis on the presence of God. In fact, if you keep reading, you would recognize that Elijah did not move until He heard the still small voice which we can safely assume contained God's presence. Yes, there's revelation in the stillness of God's Voice when compared to the grandeur of wind, earthquake and fire. However, today God wants us to recognize the importance of being guided by His presence.

Why was it so important for God to distinguish the value of His presence to Elijah from signs and wonders? Think about this a little. Elijah called fire from heaven at least three times; once to burn up a wet sacrifice and twice to burn up Ahab's armies. In 1 Kings 17:1 Elijah called a drought on the spot and rain didn't fall for three years. In 1 Kings 17:6 ravens fed Elijah bread and meat. In 1 Kings 17:8-16, Elijah showed the widow and her son how to have their cake and eat it too for the duration of a multi-year famine. In 1 Kings 17:22, Elijah called the soul of the dead child back into his body. In 1 Kings 18:11-12, Ahab's servant said that Elijah had a reputation of instantly translating from one place to another.

In other words, signs and wonders were commonplace for Elijah. Hence, the wind, earthquake or fire from God may have moved us but unless God Himself was in them, they didn't move Elijah. Neither, did God want them to, especially with Elijah's state of mind at the time. Elijah's life was in complete turmoil. He was running for his life from Jezebel. He was scared. He was tired. He felt all alone. He knew God's power. He knew God's miracles. He knew the power of God's Word. He didn't need another sign. He just needed God's presence. He was at his lowest point and he just needed to know that The Lord was with him. He didn't want what was in God's hands. He just needed to be in God's face.

Exodus 33:12-17(NKJV) - Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

Moses understand the value of God's presence. He spoke to God face to face. He knew God's personality. He shared God's heart for His people. So he chose to be guided by God's presence. If God's presence moved, they would move. If God's presence stayed, they would stay. Wherever God's presence would go was the place that the Children of Israel needed to go. Wherever God's presence would not go was the place the Children of Israel needed to avoid. From the days of the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, they understood that following God's presence was the best way to remain in God's Will. Today, God also wants us to get to that stage of our relationship with Him. He wants us to move away from simply following signs, impulses, trends or crowds to following His presence. If you believe God is leading you somewhere or to do something you should use His presence as confirmation that you're on the right track because God doesn't show up where He doesn't want to be.

2 Samuel 6:12-15(NKJV) - Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.

Why did King David dance before God with all of his might when they finally got their hands on the ark of The Lord? The ark represented God's presence and wherever God's presence rested so did His blessing. That's the essence of this entire message. If we only understood the intrinsic value of God's presence we would stop running after every other thing and pursue His presence for the rest of our lives. In His presence we will find joy and pleasures (Psalms 16:11). Where His Spirit is, we will be free (2 Corinthians 3:17). It's His presence that's the difference maker for our present and our future. It's His presence that will keep us through difficult seasons of our lives. It's the people who have God's presence who will be confident that all will be well with them. It's all about His presence.

Psalm 51:10-12(NKJV)- Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

This is my prayer and should be yours too. Enjoy God's presence today.

2

God of the Open Door

Psalm 25:4-5(NKJV) - Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

Options... options... options... life is full of so many options. What career should I choose? Where should I go to school? Where should I work? Who should I marry? Should I even get married? What church should I join? Where should I live? What should I do with my free time? What should I do with my life? What should I do with my talents? What should I do with my money? Those are some of the biggest questions we need answers for. Yet, on top of those big life questions with existential significance, there are many more smaller questions we have to answer everyday of our lives. Why? It's because life is about choices and the choices we make define the lives we live. How do you know which option is God's choice for you?

The easy answer is to say that the option you should choose is the one that lines up with God's Word. That's a great answer but it works best if the choice is between doing what is clearly morally right and doing what is wrong. God's Word will always tell you to do what is morally right. Yet, moral or ethical choices aren't the only ones we have to make. What do you do when you have to choose between two options that are morally right or morally neutral? Which scripture is going to give you the answer? This option also works if you can find an example in The Bible which either closely matches your situation or can be related to it. However, what do you do when your circumstances are not easy to match with specific scriptures?

Isaiah 30:21(NKJV) - Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

The next easy answer is to say that God will tell you which option to choose. I like that answer because it is the right one. However, how does God speak to you? What did He tell you this morning? How did He say it? For the last five confusing situations where you needed to make important choices between options that were morally neutral or good, how did God tell you what to do? Are you sure it was Him? Do you still wonder if you made the right choice? Hindsight is 20-20, so you should know by now if at least some of your older decisions were right or wrong.

I'll be honest with you. God talks to me all the time. I'm thankful He does but that's not the whole story. Sometimes, I can hear what He's saying with total clarity but other times I can't and that's a problem. It's not good enough for God to speak. I have to hear what He's saying too. It's especially difficult to hear His Voice when people around me who also hear from God provide conflicting perspectives on the same situation. It's not good enough to be religious about it and act like you always know what God is thinking. Let's get real. Yes, God has all of the answers. We just don't always know what they are. Hence, we need a consistent and reliable way of getting answers from God even when we're struggling to hear His Voice. Hence, the subject of today's blog; "God of the Open Door".

Revelation 3:7-8(NKJV) - “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

For over two decades, God has shown me what to do in the simplest of ways. He opens the door to the path He wants me to take and closes the door to the path He doesn't want me to take. When faced with some of the most difficult choices in my life, my prayers have remained largely consistent. "Lord, open the door you want me to walk through and close the doors you don't." Even though life presents us all with choices, I like narrowing mine down by the process of elimination. I know it works because I can look back over my life at a track record of good decisions that were only possible because I chose the doors God opened for me and gave up on the ones He closed. It's a remarkably simple approach but it's worth a try.

In the Old Testament, the names of God were directly related to revelations of God's character. When God provided a lamb for Abraham in place of his son, Isaac, The Bible says in Genesis 22:14(KJV); "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." When the Angel of The Lord visited Gideon and commissioned him as the savior of Israel in the midst of their oppression by the Midianites, The Bible says in Judges 6:22-24(KJV); "And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." So when God showed me how to make good decisions in the midst of confusion by noticing the open door, He revealed Himself as "God of the Open Door".

Psalm 37:23-24(NKJV) - The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

If God orders our steps, He won't order us to keep butting our heads against doors He has purposefully closed. He would order us through the doors He has purposefully opened. My engineering career is a perfect example. Since the day I graduated with my BS an MS degrees from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech it's been an interesting journey. When I was in graduate school God opened the door for me to get my first job then after 12 years the door started closing. Since I'm a creature of habit, I watched the door closing and the walls closing in around me but did nothing about it. Then after months of inaction, God did the following to me.

Job 33:14-16(NLT) - For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings.

When I wouldn't notice the God of the Open Door, He transformed into the God of the Terrifying Dream and got my immediate attention. Since then, my career has been on autopilot. Each step I take now is away from closing doors and through open doors. God hasn't terrified me with dreams about my career lately so it looks like He's satisfied that I'm getting the point. I've stopped trying to force things to work that just aren't working anymore. Things that are past their season have become the closing doors in my life. When the door is closing, it takes tremendous human effort just for it to stay open because I'm on my own. Yet, the more I do to prop the door open, the more the door closes. Eventually, I have to accept that it's not what God wants and He's the one closing the door. Fortunately, God never closes a door without opening another so if a door is closing, it's time to look around for the door that He's opening.

All of us don't have the special ability to hear God's Voice in every situation. However, all of us can see if a door is closing and another one is opening. God has guided me this way for two decades and for the last few days He's been stirring my heart to share our special arrangement with you. Now is the time to ask yourself the tough questions. Have you been trying to keep a door open that door is closing? Have you been ignoring the only open door because you don't want to walk through it for whatever reason? Your success or failure in life is based on the choices you make. A life that's defined by forcing open closed doors is always going to be hard. It's not worth it trying to swim against the current when God is in the current. As my father says; "The worst place to be is where God was." When the cloud moves, even if you're comfortable where you are, pick up your tent and move with it.

Acts 26:14(AMP) - And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’

I won't challenge Floyd Mayweather to a boxing match, Usain Bolt to a 100m dash nor Michael Phelps to a swimming race of any length. Why? I'll lose! It's pointless. Then why would I, in my right mind, think it makes any sense to resist God? If He opens the door and says go right, why would I go left and try to force open a closed door? Because he offered pointless resistance, Saul ended up being knocked off of his high horse by Jesus (pun intended). Jacob would not stop wrestling with God so he ended up with a disjointed hip in Genesis 32:24-25. Jonah tried to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh so he ended up at the brink of death in Jonah 2. What will be your story?

I invite you to get to know Jesus as the God of the Open Door. Unlike many of us, He is very decisive according to 1 Samuel 15:29. He knows exactly what He wants to do and He knows what's best for you. Even if He's promised you things that you are not seeing right now in your life, He can be trusted. Focus your energy on the opportunities He has placed before you. Don't waste energy stressing about the opportunities you did not get. Set your sights on the doors He has opened. Don't be distracted by the doors He has closed. In this season of your life, He closed them for a reason. Now is not the time for that. It's the time for something else. Something He wants you to have. Something He's placed before your eyes. Something on the other side of the open door... something good. Get up and take it. It's yours.

Slider by webdesign