Pursuing God through Open Doors
6 Steps to Engaging the “God Moments”
(the Opportunities He Sends You)
He reveals his plan when we see and take advantage of opportunities.
Reed Hastings, with Netflix, offered to partner with Blockbuster and they laughed him out of the office. It was a missed opportunity.
God moments can be missed because we are not looking in the right place, the Scriptures.
Be very careful, then, how you live (walk)—not as unwise but as wise.
How to walk… first according to the law, then the according to the light of Christ. Walk in love, as in the beginning of this chapter. “Walk” indicates a pattern of life. Don’t be influenced by the dangers of evil. Did Paul have something unique in mind? Yes. See Ephesians 5:14, SLEEP, a spiritual slothfulness, or indifference to matters that are serious, to sin in our lives. They were no longer morally vigilant.
1. Avoid an attitude of indifference about spiritual matters. We can get indifferent to the work of salvation in our lives. Spiritual matters represent who we truly are. Elie Wiesel speech, the perils of indifference, which is a state were the lines blur between light and dark, right and wrong, good and evil. God desires us to will and do his good pleasure. Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Greek stoicism has been challenged by Christianity. There is no difference between theology and ethics.
2. Recognize your daily decisions as directly related to your relationship with Jesus. Live in wisdom. Sometimes we don’t feel God is using us. Ask, “How many decisions are you making that reflect God’s desire.” God will use you when you make wise choices. What is in it for God? Not what’s in it for me. What you wear matters. What you write on Facebook matters. How you treat others matters. Gordon MacDonald traveled regularly, intimidated but the schools of academia he passed each day. Overwhelmed, and minimized the efforts of his congregation and his life.
Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
“Redeem the time.” It’s like buying something, a transaction. The moment is in front of you, be wise with your time.
3. Value the present moment with an eternal perspective. Look at the example in Acts 3, Peter and John taking time for prayer, saw the lame man at the gate, who was carried there each day. Why did this man capture the attention of Peter and John? God empowered them to seek, address, and heal this man. What is God doing right in front of us? Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that eternity is in the hearts of men. We face moments every day. We must ask ourselves, “Did God send this moment right now, for me?” C.S. Lewis said, “Those who do the most in this present world think most about the next world.”
4. Look for any opportunity to love in deed and truth. There is urgency in this passage. We know this world will not improve. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; the opportunities are in front of us. This world is evil and needs the light of the gospel. In soccer, children hover over the ball like organized chaos. But the effective goalie has a super responsibility, that 18×18 meter box is my area, I protect it no matter what. What about in life, where is my circle of influence. Am I taking responsibility for those around me?
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
5. Value your time through God’s perspective. We often value time by our own schedule, and not on God’s timing.
6. Keep your spiritual fervor. Walking well will not happen by accident. It will not happen in the flesh. Give God every moment. How easily do we give up, like a New Years resolution, how about exercise or eating better? Fatigue comes due to lack of internal conditioning. We give up when it becomes hard. Fervor of the Spirit to obey him.
These are six ways to prepare you for God’s service. An opportunist takes immediate action. Let these principles guide you. Give God glory in this moment.
Pursuing God When Tempted
2 Timothy 2:19-22
Flee your wrong desires and pursue the righteousness of Christ.
N.T. Wright illustration, “Think of a dangerous, angry animal, and when faced with that animal, what would you do? Then think how you would feel when you saw a loved one you had not seen in years. How would you behave?” Run to the heart of God.
Paul was concerned for Timothy in a wicked culture and gives him some incredible advice. How to pursue God when facing temptation.
1. Remember your identity in Christ (2 Timothy 2:19).
He knows those who are his… two facts, your life with God and your life in the world.
With God, this demonstrates he is the one who authors our salvation. Some were defecting from the gospel, many were tripped up and led away from Jesus. Like Korah’s rebellion. 1 Corinthians 12:3, reminds us that we can call out to the Lord by the Holy Spirit.
In the world, 2 Corinthians 5:15-17, a new creation, stand firm, we cannot be shaken. Ken told a story about Fritz, a violinist, in a shop, accused of stealing the violin he was holding. He was arrested, and to prove his identity he said, “Just let me play it for you to prove who I am.”
2. Do not settle for less than God’s best (2 Timothy 2:20).
The dilemma, the first word appears to counter the verse before this one. Paul goes from the big picture, the world, to something more local, the large house.
The distinction, vessels are for different purposes. This is a reference from 2 Timothy 2:17-19, not all professed believers really know Christ. There are those who have lasting value and those who do not. If you are an earthen vessel, then repent! There are people in the church who do not know Christ! Ken told a story about going through a home, there were labels telling people, “do not touch.” You can tell that which items were valuable.
3. Set yourself apart unto God (2 Timothy 2:21).
What things are we to set apart? Those items that personify earthenware. Accountability is built upon responsibility. We are told to cleanse yourself. The idea is separation of evil, not that we would hold onto our own self-righteousness.
Results are threefold…
- Becomes a vessel of honor showing the value of the church or house.
- Being sanctified, demonstrating our sanctification. The value of the master’s work.
- Being prepared for every good work, the proclamation of gospel.
4. Remain watchful and resistant against sin (2 Timothy 2:22)
Flee youthful lusts, this applies to all ages, the meaning here is a flaming lust, an untamable flame, running is not always an indication of cowardice,
5. Pursue righteousness (2 Timothy 2:22).
Pursue righteousness and faith, God’s nature is love, shalom peace, with God and with others, where God’s presence is known well.
We grieve over flagrant sins, but often not over our private ones. What prevents us from loving others. To unlove is to hate.
Why is all this so important? A George Barna survey about a dangerous and new moral code in America. You find yourself by looking within yourself, we should not criticize the lifestyles of others, pursuing that which you desire the most is the highest goal people can achieve, believe whatever you want as long as it does not affect society, behavior between consenting adults is acceptable.
Christians cannot give in to the influence of the world.
Life Group Questions:
An Unashamed Workman
14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- About what sorts of things do we get into senseless arguments with other Christians? (see 2 Timothy 2:14)
- What does it mean to be approved by God? (see 2 Timothy 2:15)
- How can we please God with our work or deeds? How is it possible to do God’s work with the wrong motivation?
- What circumstances make you feel ashamed or embarrassed?
- When are you tempted to engage in godless chatter or stupid arguments?
- What false doctrines have destroyed the faith of someone you know? (see 2 Timothy 2:17-18)
- What evil desires of youth continually tempt us?
- In what way have people in our society (or in the church) been taken captive by the devil?
- when do you feel the world tug on you? What steps do you take to keep your focus on God?
- What are ways to limit the effect of worldly things in your life.
- Where are examples in your life where you felt the need to run away from something? (Because of character, not cowardice).
- When you hear the statistic that up to 80% of people who attend church may have never made a true decision for salvation, what is your emotional response to this information?
- Do you feel that work in the kingdom is shared evenly throughout the congregation, or is there a smaller percentage of people who do most of the ministry in the church? Why is this true?
- How can our Christian community help keep worldly things at bay? What is the advantage of safety in numbers? How does this apply to the church?
- Where do you feel God uses you for his glory? How are you gifted for the work of ministry? In what areas are your stronger? In what areas are you not as effective?
- What areas of your life do you rely upon God the most?
- How has mass media changed throughout the years? Is media as a whole going in the wrong direction? How are we influenced by mass media (magazines, movies, television)? What positive Christian messages have you seen in the media?
- Do you think Christians today have a healthy fear of sin? How do you think popular culture has changed in terms of viewing sin and immorality?
- What are ways we can strengthen our children against worldly influences?
- What does it mean to you to pursue righteousness? Is there a time in your life when you felt you were pursuing God more than you are right now?
- How is tolerance a dangerous word sometimes? How has the use of this word changed over the years?
- In our society today, is it easier or harder to be seen as set apart (for God’s purposes)?
- Why are we content to remain as an earthen vessel? What do you think about Ken’s point that the only solution is to repent and pursue righteousness?
- What can you do to flee temptation that is all around us?
- In what ways do we settle for less than God’s best?
The JOY Club is hosting an event for the whole community, a potluck dinner and the DVD showing of the Sight and Sound Theatres production of Joseph. For all ages, no childcare is provided. Sign the list on the bulletin board with your name and desired dish you intend to bring.
This is part three of Ken’s January Bible Study on Desiring More, the journey toward personal holiness, taught on January 27, 2019.
Pursuing God When Life Hurts – Psalm 42:1-11
Corrie ten Boom wrote, “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”
Ken talked about resistance, swimming eight minutes is tougher than running a half day. When the resistance is hard, God doesn’t quit. My soul pants for you, oh God. This Psalm is what it looks like when we pursue God through our hurt. Psalm 42 and 43 are together, one flowing prayer, and an obvious cry for help.
Three movements declare one conclusion, “Yet God, I will praise you.” No matter what, I will praise you. What to do when life is hard and disappointing. We don’t grow cold, we press on. It’s easy to be pleased with God when all is going right.
Movement One (Psalm 42:1-5) we see lament and then praise.
When Life Hurts (Psalm 42:1-3) the psalmist faced emptiness, helplessness, and hopelessness. We often run past these words to the happier verses. What was happening?
Emptiness, the deer longs for streams of water, things are just not right, the fellowship is missing, I am empty and thirsty, God is the LIVING God for my living soul, when can I come before you? I miss communion with God. I thirst for the living God.
Helplessness, tears have been my food all day long night and day, he is not able to help himself.
Hopelessness, our culture has the plague of melancholy and see a dark future, truly feeling despair. Where is your God? Antagonistic friends. At times people see no way out. There is no hope.
The Pursuit (Psalm 42:4-5)
The Response: a soul issue. When life hurts, the souls of mankind cringes, the soul needs nourishment, the soul is expected to NOT to be bothered by external circumstance.
The pain (cut off) remembers the past festivals and pilgrimages and sees the separation.
The principle (God is not limited, He is my present help) Soul, what are you doing? God is not bound by walls. Why is my soul so depressed? Wake up soul, God is here.
The pursuit (I will praise Him as if I were with Him in His temple) I will worship anyway, God is greater than my troubles.
Movement Two (Psalm 42:6-11)
When Life Hurts (Psalm 42:6-10) the psalmist felt mistreated, overwhelmed, and forsaken. At verse five, it seems that the issues are resolved, but then we get to verse six. What caused this turn or shift?
Mistreated, geography and topography. I’ll remember you from the surrounding areas, not the temple. But I am way out here, when I want to be there, near you. I’m on this nothing hill, it is definitely not the mountain of Zion. This is unfair.
Overwhelmed, waters and breakers swept over him, a torrent over him. Life is overwhelming, pounding me, my family, my job, all overwhelming.
Forsaken, intellectually and emotionally. God, you are my rock, so why have you left me? Right theology gives way to emotions.
The Pursuit (Psalm 42:11)
The Response: a soul issue. The sound cringes, thirsts… the soul needs nourishment, done wonderfully in community.
The pain (bent low) internally overwhelmed, in pain. Put down and not settled inside.
The principle (I can trust God’s nature) I will hope in God, my Savior, he is the Savior of my countenance. He is a life saver, it is his nature. Saving is what he does. God’s nature affects my nature and countenance. Why is my soul so down? There is no reason for it, God is greater than my situation.
The pursuit (I look for the one who will deliver). I will still praise him, meaning I will diligently look for my deliverer. God’s timing will perfectly deliver you. I’m waiting for your response, that which you will do. Kids wait at the door for the parent to come pick them up, to deliver them from the school. We need to praise God in the trenches. I will anxiously await to see how he will deliver me. Waiting is not passion, but we actively await his deliverance. Serving over sitting.
Life Group Questions
- What do you enjoy most about going to church?
- What are some of the sacrifices you make in order to be with other believers?
- Why is it easy to get into the habit of neglecting our gathering at church?
- What are the benefits of worshiping with other Christians (over worshiping by yourself or at home)?
- Describe a time when you felt deserted by God or friends?
- Corrie ten Boom famously said, “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.” When was a time where this was true for you?
- When was a time that you questioned God?
- Casting Crowns had a hit song a few years ago called, “I will Praise You in this Storm.” How does Psalm 42 have the same spirit or attitude?
- What is the right attitude to have when venting your doubts and frustrations to the Lord in prayer?
- How can we guard against a rebellious spirit?
- How can we follow the psalm writer’s example in dealing with our doubts and depression?
- What advice does this psalm give to us about dealing with negative feelings?
- Where do you usually turn for comfort?
- How can you respond to those who are hurting?
- In what ways do we focus on the hurting body while neglecting the soul?
- What does this psalm teach us about prayer?
- What are some of the distractions of life that prevent us from hearing God’s voice?
- How do you think you could improve your prayer habits?
- What does it look like to live as if God were unlimited?
- We all feel empty, helpless, and hopeless at times.
- How can we draw on God’s strength to help us in times of need?
- Paul saw his weaknesses as a time to rely upon God’s strength. Why are people afraid to show or even admit their weaknesses?
- What are the benefits of remembering the past? What has God done for you in the past, and how do those memories encourage you in the present and future?
- Ken mentioned our culture living in an age of melancholy. What reasons support this observation? Are times getting better or worse? Why?
- When was the last time you felt mistreated, overwhelmed, or forsaken?
- What are some solutions to overcome your feelings?
- How will this knowledge change the way you respond to others?
- Have you found it easier to pursue God in good times or in tough times?
- Name some ways that you can better and more effectively pursue God.
- What steps could you take the next time you feel doubt or disappointment in God?
- How can you remind yourself to turn to the Lord with your problems instead of allowing them to anger or frustrate you?
Ken is preaching a message on Sunday January 27, not to be missed, How to Pursue God When Life Hurts.
This broken world is filled with problems of every sort. Life can hurt. Life is not fair. Inundated with challenges from multiple directions, we can be tempted to settle for short-term fixes. If we want God’s best, we need to stop, take time to seek His wisdom, and allow God’s peace and perspective to permeate our thinking. We may have no understand of why we are hurting, or why we are in this particular circumstance, but will that affect our pursuit of God?
Where do we seek answers? Where are you desiring a more permanent solution instead of temporary relief? Where do you need to seek not just what works but God’s perspective?
The Pursue series has only begun, but this lesson will likely hit home for many people. Will you be with the gathered church this Sunday? Catch up on the series by viewing the other messages. Seek the wisdom of God and see life from his perspective. This is a great verse…
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.— James 3:17-18
Part Two: Chase the Promise (Jeremiah 29:10-14)
60% of Americans make resolutions… wanting to be better. 1 diet, 2 exercise. Both require a plan. Listen to the director or coach. The thing we chase after require a plan. That which we long for, we need plans to pursue. All of God’s plans may be discovered in his promises. He will fulfill his Word. The date: 605-537 BC with the Jews in exile, and God raised up Jeremiah to remind them of his promise. How?
Live like His promises are true (chase the promise) by,
1. PRIORITIZING what God says Over POPULAR THOUGHTS of Man (Jeremiah 29:10) Consider this…
1) There are false voices that come against his Word. The negative voice had already arisen, Hananiah. The question became, “Who spoke for God?” Who will you believe? See Jeremiah 28:15-17, the damage was done, so Jeremiah wanted to remind the people of what God said. False voices can sound authoritative, influential, even rational, it made sense to the people. According to Jeremiah 29:2, Hanaiah seemed to speak for the LORD. People don’t really change, because we always like to hear the popular news, not the hard stuff.
2) Only God’s Word can defeat or correct those false voices or narratives. Universalism, how can a God of love say there is only one way to heaven? There are good people of other faiths. I’ve done too much to be forgiven. Some things are just impossible in my life. “Our future is as bright as God’s promises.” Adonia Judson.
2. TRUSTING in God’s PERSONAL PLANS for You DESPITE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES (Jeremiah 29:11).
1) Don’t give up on God. (Jeremiah 29:1-7) Thousands of God’s people were taken captive, but he is still with you, not limited by the walls of the Jerusalem. Move forward in faith and trust.
2) Don’t stop listening to God. (Jeremiah 29:8-9) Take all others thoughts captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
3) Don’t stop waiting for God’s plan to be fulfilled. (Jeremiah 29:15) When you are busy, the waiting does not seem like waiting. The report about time delays at baggage claim, down to 1 minute walk and an 8 minute wait. They still had complaints so they moved baggage claim about 8 minutes away, and the complaints stopped.
3. APPROACHING worship as the PRIVILEGE OF A DIVINE relationship and not as an OBLIGATION OF RELIGION (Jeremiah 29:12).
Call to me, come to me, pray to me – worship in the temple. The profile of worship in the temple. For us, it is a profile of a worshiper.
Do you hunger for God’s presence? Fellowship with a holy God. Do you see worship as a privilege? Are we dependent on what God says?
4. Seeking God FROM SINCERITY and not OUT OF A SPIRITUAL IDEAL (Jeremiah 29:13).
This is in covenant language. We have something to do. Seek him with our whole heart, not casually or with our mouth only. But how?
- We have a personal relationship with Jesus.
- We yearn for fellowship.
- We seek in all the promises given. Living as they are confirmed.
- We follow Jesus. Our first love, Savior, and Lord.
In 2014, there were treasure seekers, in the Rockies, and many died in search of it. The wealthy man claims to have hidden it well, but people still risk their lives to find it. Wives and children have lost their loved ones for a treasure that many don’t believe exists. One widow said that it was vanity to give your life for a “greater good,” is a greater good hidden treasure?
Tozer said it was the greatest paradox of the soul, pursing the One who loves and pursues you.
Questions for further study:
- Why was it important for the exiles to know that God planned to prosper them and not to harm them?
- What kind of prophet (false or true) told the people what they wanted to hear while requiring nothing of them in return?
- What emotional reaction would most people have if asked to pray for the prosperity of their captors?
- How do you think God would have us pray for our country?
- Why does God want us to seek Him with our whole heart?
- What does it mean to you to seek God with your whole heart?
God longs for the day when we will see and treat people as He does. From the beginning, He made human beings in His image. Each person is of inestimable worth, created to live in life-giving relationship with others and work for the good of the world. But sin brought division, discord, and alienation from God and one another. Through Jesus, we have found forgiveness and reconciliation with God and we are being restored to God’s original purpose for life and humanity. God longs for all people to be reconciled to Him and with one another. How are you working toward and living out God’s vision and purpose?
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.— Matthew 5:9
This is why our very first key value is COMMUNITY. It is our desire so see people connected in community; connected to the family of God (salvation through Jesus Christ) and connection to King’s Grant (active membership and participation in our local fellowship).
[ The top portion of this post is from the Lead Like Jesus devotional for January 21, 2019 ]
This is Pastor Ken’s second lesson in the series Desiring More, the journey toward personal holiness, from January 16, 2019.