9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Col. 1:9-12) “Am I walking in a manner worthy of the gospel?” This question plagues my thoughts. One thing I fear is that I am not in-line with the work Jesus accomplished for us. I’m sure you feel the same. With the vastness of the wealth and pleasure at our disposal, it seems routine and commonplace for us to substitute so many things in place of the worship of God. Maintenance of our bodies, homes, hobbies, and relationships often supersedes and replaces our time with the Lord. Even though we avoid participation in easily identifiable sins, we must admit that our thoughts and meditations frequently ruminate on that which is detestable to God. The way we think about others, sex, self, and perceive the world around us contradicts what God expects from us. How do we get past this? Paul’s prayer for the church at Colossae illuminates a few concepts. First, the knowledge of the will of God includes the necessary wisdom and understanding for spiritual life. Often this premise eludes us. It is quite easy to read the Bible with the goal of obtaining practical instruction for life; however, Paul demonstrates that a greater realization of God and His work provides the true wisdom for life. While this may seem a trivial and petty distinction, it is not—what we focus upon when reading the Bible matters! When we focus upon God we grow in love for God. When we focus on our efforts, frustration grows within us. Secondly, Paul’s prayer demonstrates our ability to glorify God, grow within our spirituality, and endure is directly related to seeking time with God. As we spend more time with the Lord, the presence of God strengthens us. Think about it like this… God saved us so we would abide in Him, when we fail to abide within His presence, we expose our weaknesses and vulnerability. We do not strengthen ourselves and then worship God, we worship God and are, in turn, strengthened by God. Paul communicates the reality of our extreme dependence upon the presence of God. In our frailty and weakness, we strive to make ourselves acceptable and fit to approach God—this is ludicrous. However, God, in the face of our weakness, redeemed us and opened His presence to us. God makes us fit to walk with Him and enjoy Him. The presence of God produces our salvation, sanctification, ability to worship Him, and our JOY! We go to God because we are weak and sinful, not because we have made ourselves acceptable to God. As you reflect upon the powerful presence of God, ask yourself this question: “Do I abide in God’s presence, or do I merely visit Him occasionally?” One of my most frequent prayers for New Hope is that we would enjoy the presence of God to the extent that we powerfully reflect God to those around us. I pray this because I realize the temptation to do a lot for God without enjoying our God. I want to encourage you to seek the face of God and know the joy of His presence. Because of this, let’s ask ourselves a few questions to spur our hearts toward worship.
What do I enjoy most about the Lord?
How has God changed me through His word and prayer?
What am I wrestling with that is causing me to neglect time with the Lord?
The more thoroughly you answer, the more you will rejoice in the Lord.
Over the last few days the Lord has answered several “little” requests for me that demonstrate the power of His presence and love. For a week now, I’ve fought the start of a cold, and I’ve had great anxiety about this because the country I’m in quarantines those who manifest signs of illness. As I passed through customs this morning, the medical staff was absent, and I went through free and clear! While this may seem trivial, I was absolutely concerned about spending 14 days in quarantine and being unable to preach a conference I felt sure God orchestrated. Space does not permit me the opportunity to provide further examples, but God has manifested His providential and protective hand several times in the last two weeks. When we spend time within His presence, God shows us how good His presence is for us! I hope this encourages you to seek the face of God this week! I love you and look forward to our time in the Lord. In Christ, Pastor Darin