Settling for Form Over Substance (#601)

There's a difference between God always being with us, and those moments where he specifically manifests his presence in the outpouring of his grace or the revelation of his heart and will. It seems that while we humans have the desire for God to make himself known, we are willing to settle for our plans and activities if he does not. Perhaps that is one of the downsides of our weekly attempts through song services and sermons to get God to show up and do something to make himself known bigger than what's in our own hearts. What if he doesn't conform to our schedule, nor seeks to overcome all we are trying to do on his behalf? Is this what Paul meant when we warned us about having "a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." (2 Timothy 3:5), and those who are "always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." (v. 7). The reality of God lies not through our activities, but our surrender to him and his ways.

Podcast Notes:
Helping with Agriculture in Pokot
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  1. I live on the understanding that the totality of God’s love, freedom and grace are always fully gifted to me -sometimes I’m more aware of one or more or all three, sometimes not, but God’s presence is not dependent on my state of mind or spirit. The practice of Christian ethics keeps me fully occupied and continually learning. God’s will is all around me in seeking to love myself and especially to love my neighbour. I don’t feel a need for waiting for God’s direction it seems to come while I’m doing other ministries and invariably builds on what I already have. Conviction is not proof – indeed some of the most memorable ministries have come almost unconsciously transitioning to new roles – seen clearly only in looking back. I never worry – there’s always so much to do at hand that is within the biblical guidelines.

  2. Wayne or Brad;

    As a group of believers who want to get together and experience Him, how do we merge the ‘asking the Spirit to come over us’ with, ‘He may not want to do anything at 10 am on a Sunday morning’?

    I mean, there must be a happy middle ground, right?

    • This is Wayne. Let’s see if Brad and I can explore that question together some time. I think if we were more perceptive of his ways we’d know those times he’d like to visit in a special way and those times when it might just be about fellowship and caring for each other. It’s not that we meet regularly that’s the problem, but the idea that we can create a powerful visitation with our routines and then have to pretend it happened even when it didn’t. When I pastored regularly there were times when God powerfully made himself known, and others we hoped he would and in our ambition made it feel that way. But the times he did was way less than once a week. It’s not that there aren’t other valuable things we can do, though, when we’re together.

      My friends in Ireland handled it a bit differently forty years ago. They decided not to meet regularly, but only when God seemed to be drawing them together, which didn’t turn out to be often at all. They fellowshipped with each other all the time, but didn’t have “meetings” unless God was calling them together for a purpose.

      I wouldn’t begin to advocate that there is some principle here that would work for everyone. It’s a matter of listening and following and hopefully being aware when we’re creating an illusion simply because we had something scheduled.

  3. Wow! Great pod cast guys – and I love the family analogy stuff Brad. I personally find that so much about our heavenly dad’s heart towards us all and how he goes about rescuing us is best understood and explained through that ‘lens’.
    Just got back into town a couple of days ago (no Internet connection) and decided today to jump the queue and listen to this pod cast rather than catching up one by one for a change – and I must say I didn’t regret doing so.
    We are just getting the news today here in Australia about what’s happening in Las Vegas – boy, our hearts go out to you guys over there.

    Wayne’s comments about the homosexuality thing among believers struck a chord with me as right at this time in Australia, we are in the middle of doing a postal survey (not vote) over whether or not the Australian public support changing legislation and accept gay marriage – following most of the rest of world on this issue.
    I really don’t think our governing authorities (worldwide) are thinking this one through – as for one thing, (as I see it), the primary role God has given governing authorities (as his servants) is primarily all about the issue of determining what does harm to person or property and dealing with that – not dealing with what consenting adults (i.e. those recognised as adults – not juveniles) choose to do re-sexual persuasion et cetera. And I think it is only a matter of time before the ‘penny will drop’ all around the world over what sort of ‘door’ is being opened with the gay marriage issue. As I believe, that due to the fact that genetics play no role in gay marriage, that it will only be a matter of time before sisters will seek to marry sisters, brothers will want to marry brothers, mothers marry daughters, father’s marry sons, grandfathers with grandson’s, grandmothers with granddaughters – I’m sure you all get the picture here. And do you really think the world is ready for that? I don’t think so! But I bet it’s only a matter of time before someone pushes for that and then what? As I said, I don’t think legislators have really thought this one through……

    In regards to professing believers attempting to justify sexual behaviour that we all know from Scripture wasn’t God’s design for us – meaning you will not only not find fulfilment in pursuing those desires, but will more than likely than not find that doing so is actually doing real harm to your relationship with yourself, your relationship with others, and of course, your relationship with your creator father.
    I often find myself drawn to a somewhat incomplete analogy on this issue where any form of sexual behaviour outside of God’s design for us is like going into an ice cream shop and deciding you want to have a taste of every ice cream in the shop before buying one i.e. having sex with everyone you can, not taking into account that God plans to bond each of these persons with someone else and you are damaging their ability to do that (fornication). Or try and have a taste of the ice cream everyone else has already bought (adultery). Or taste the same ‘kind’ of ice cream as yourself (homosexuality). Or taste the ice cream of a completely different ‘species’ (bestiality). And so on and so on – I think you all get the picture here…….

  4. Wallowing/condemning ourselves is another form of pride….like Brad said “it’s not shocking” we mess up…if we wallow it’s assuming we were perfect as God is…hmmm.
    Religion deceives to think its humble to talk about all our bad qualities….brings death not life and it’s pride not humility.

    As to meetings: like was mentioned here usually most meetings are not biblical. I long to share when I come to gather with believers but I can’t I when I am to sit and listen to a lecture and even if there is a message which can very well be from God let the people respond, share, interact. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 14 talks of PARTICIPATORY believers…that’s where the freedom comes and more and more I am seeing how much God created us for FREEDOM! 1 Cor 14 also says “IF all gather”

    I have much more enjoyed the on going Holy Spirit presence as we abide in Him and not have the pressure to HAVE to bring a prophecy or a word or something each meeting” but just abiding and I am convinced no “routine scheduling” is needed as if we are abiding in Him of course we will be led into gathering when He leads and while abiding we are able to be love and light to where He leads…just this week my daughter had our elderly neighbor on her mind and was on my mind too…we made banana bread for her and prayed for her in the morning and found out it was her 56year wedding anniversary that day and wasn’t feeling well to celebrate but found out she was feeling better that morning so she could go…theses happenings are daily and multiple times daily it’s become a part of life now….he who looses his life finds it.
    My husband right now is helping our neighbor with his deck…we have so much more freedom to love beyond the walls now…it’s Life.

    The manifestation of the Spirit for me is seeing my daughter be led to pray and bless our neighbor, and yes I have felt His presence strong at some gatherings but like said here to make that in itself the focus is a distraction at the least.
    Abiding is the key.

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