Jesus is Knocking. Will I Answer? (Enjoying the Presence of God)

Rogue River Trail-Rockford, MI (Photo by: Mark J Booth)
Rogue River Trail-Rockford, MI (Photo by: Mark J Booth)

The Christian life encounters many pitfalls. One unsuspecting pitfall is that we lose the joy of being a Christian.  We become lukewarm in our relationship with Christ.   Prayer is routine.  Bible study is a chore.  Our worship has become cold and formal. What has happened to our lives?

There was a church in the New Testament that had these same problems.  Jesus spoke these words to the church at Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”(Revelation 3:15-16)  This church was religious, but they no longer enjoyed Christ’s presence. They had lost a vibrant relationship with their living Lord.

What was Christ’s answer to their problem? “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) Christ was telling the church that they were leaving Him out of their lives.  He politely was knocking on the door of their hearts; so that they would once again enjoy having fellowship with Him.

Chateau-Abbadia (Southwestern France)Photo by: Mark J Booth
Chateau-Abbadia (Southwestern France)
Photo by: Mark J Booth

 A meal in Bible times was a time-consuming event where people enjoyed talking and listening to one another.  Jesus longs for this kind of communion with us.  Have we opened the door?  Christ has prepared a meal for us with His presence and blessings. Have we sat down and taken the time to enjoy His presence?  He is waiting. 

When we take the time to enjoy Christ’s presence, we will view life and our circumstances from a totally different perspective.  We will see life as God sees life.  We will see our problems as God sees our problems.  God has prepared a banquet for us. Here is what He offers to us as take time to enjoy His presence.

1. We have guidance in our life.  “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me;” (Psalm 43:3a) The question is often asked: “How can I know the will of God?”  To understand the will of God means more than following a formula, but we follow the Lord.  As we commune with the Lord, we will discover what pleases Him and what doesn’t please Him.  God’s greatest priority for our lives is that we know Him.  His light and truth will guide us. 

2. We enjoy true worship of God. “let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” (Psalm 43:3b) The Psalmist in the midst of all that was happening in his life saw the importance of worshiping God. Worship is not to please ourselves, but to please our Lord.  He desires worship because He is worthy of our worship.  Our worship is bringing glory to God in all that we say and do.  When we worship God, we recognize His presence and majesty.  

3. We have joy in spite of the circumstances in our life.  “Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy:” (Psalm 43:4a) The Psalmist faced many trials in his life which caused him to become to discouraged and depressed.  He understood that in God’s presence there is great joy.  No matter what is happening in our lives, if we remember that God is with us, we can experience a joy that is not based upon circumstances, but based upon a relationship.

4. We have an attitude of praise.  “yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.” (Psalm 43:4b)  We often give praise for the blessings that we receive from God, but what about giving praise to the giver of those blessings.  When we enjoy God’s presence, we will focus upon all that God is.  We will praise HIm for His attributes and titles.  Every day, we should take the time to praise God for all that He is and does.

5. We have a contented spirit.  They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” (Psalm 36:8)  A lack of contentment is a warning sign that we are not enjoying God’s presence.  When we are walking with God, we will be totally content. When we are close to the Lord, everything else will fall in place. 

6. We receive comfort from God. I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Comfort is not based on circumstances, but upon our relationship with our Living God.  His rod shows his protection against our enemies.  His staff shows His guidance and help in our lives.  When we have His protection and guidance, we are sure of His comfort and love even in the most trying times. 

Enjoying God’s presence begins with salvation, but it continues for all eternity.  We enjoy His presence as we listen to him, communicate with Him, meditate upon Him and pour out our heart unto Him.  Are enjoying His presence today?

“Dear Lord, my life often becomes filled with the routine.  I have lost the joy of being Christian. I haven’t taken the time or effort to enjoy your presence.  Thank you for knocking on the door of my heart.  Thank you for your desire to fellowship with me.  I now open up the door of my heart to you.  Please come in!  I know that the greatest joy in life comes from being in your presence.  Amen.”

Have I Forgotten Him?

The Canadian Rockies-Photo By: Mark J. Booth

During this time of year, everybody is busy.  Maybe, we are too busy.  We can easily forget Jesus Christ in all that we are doing.  Jesus longs to keep us close to Himself.  He longs to walk with us daily.  We get busy with family, friends, work, and even church and we can quickly forget Jesus Christ.

  • I look for salvation, but I forget the Savior.
  • I look for comfort, but I forget the Comforter
  • I look for blessings, but I forget the One who Blesses.
  • I look for promises, but I forget the Promised One
  • I look for guidance, but I forget the Guide.
  • I look for provision, but I forget the Provider
  • I look for protection, but I forget the Protector
  • I look for love, but I forget the Lover of My Soul.
  • I look for strength, but I forget the All-Powerful One.
  • I look for peace, but I forget the Giver of Peace.

The early church also had a tendency to forget the Lord Jesus Christ.   The Book of Revelation was written to seven churches.  Five of these churches showed some definite signs of forgetting Jesus.  Here is a verse that can refocus our thoughts and affections upon Our Lord Jesus Christ.  “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Revelation 1:5)

1. Jesus Christ is Our Deliverer.  “And from Jesus Christ”  The name “Christ” is the word “Messiah” in Greek.  This word has the idea of deliverer.  Jesus came to deliver us from sin, death, and the devil.  We no longer have to live under the penalty and dominion of sin because we have a new life in Jesus Christ.  We have new life in order to pursue a close love relationship with Jesus Christ.

2. Jesus Christ is our Faithful Witness.  “who is the faithful witness”. Jesus came to earth primarily to die on the cross for our sin; however, He also came to teach us the truth.  Through Him, we learn the truth about God, ourselves, the future, the way of salvation, and many other important subjects.  Our relationship with Christ enables us to see God and life more clearly.

3. Jesus Christ is the Conqueror of Death. “the first begotten of the dead”.   As a pastor, I have done many funerals.  These funerals are sad occasions; yet because of Christ’s resurrection, we know that there is hope.  Death, for the believer in Christ, is the doorway to the presence of the Lord and Heaven.  We don’t need to fear death when we walk with the One who conquered death.  

The Garden Tomb-Jerusalem: Photo by Mark J. Booth

4. Jesus Christ is Sovereign.  “the prince of the kings of the earth.” Jesus is greater than  any earthly ruler.  No matter what happens in our nation, we know that Jesus is ultimately in control.  One day, Jesus Christ will return to earth to reign over all those who have believed upon Him.  The whole Book of Revelation is about the events before and after His coming.   No matter what happens in our lives, we can remember that Jesus is ultimately in control.

5. Jesus Christ is the Source of Love.  “Unto Him that loved us,”  We don’t deserve His love; yet He loves us.  The more we know Him, the more we will understand His love and the ways of His love.  When we are full of anxiety, fear, discontentment and discouragement, these are signs that we have forgotten Jesus Christ and His great love for us. 

6. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World.  “And washed us from our sins in his own blood.”  As the song writer wrote: “Nothing can wash away my sins, but the blood of Jesus.”  Jesus took our place on the cross.  His love is a love of action.  He not only tells us that He loves us, but He showed His love by dying on the cross for our sins.  He alone saves us from our sin. “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Many in the early church were religious, but they had forgotten Jesus Christ.  Have we forgotten Him?  Have we forgotten all that He is and has done?  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

“Dear Lord, I have the tendency to forget you amidst all that goes in my life.  I may seek what you can give me, but I forget you.  Help me, to seek you above all else.  Thank you for all that you are and all that you have done. Amen”

Making the Debates Personal

Photo by: The Washington Post

The first two debates are now history.  The debates have been helpful to hear the candidates and learn their positions.  They have also been helpful to see how the candidates interact with each other. Many people have written about the debates, but no one has asked the question:  “What can we learn about ourselves from the debates?”  Here are several questions that we can ask to help us make these debates personal.

1. What is the most important thing in my life? 

The debates, thus far, have focused a lot upon our economy.  The candidates in their own way are saying that money is the most element for being a happy, contented citizen. Is this correct? God says:  “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

When money becomes the main focus in our life, it keeps us from focusing upon God.  Jesus understood this when He said:  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
The Lord desires our focus to be upon Him, anything else can quickly become an idol in our life.

2. Do I have a fear of man or a fear of God? 

The candidates use the debates to state their positions to please a certain group of people.  The candidates develop a fear of man because they are looking for votes.  We can often be controlled by the fear of man as well.  The Bible says: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) The fear of man keeps us from pleasing God.  It keeps us from serving God fully.

True freedom is found when we have a fear of God instead of a fear of man.  When we fear God, He is the one that we need to please. “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7) Unlike the politicians, the opinion of others should not enslave our thoughts and actions.  We find true freedom in submission to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

3. Do I build people up or do I tear them down?

The debates have illustrated the great art of tearing down another person to build up one self.  We find this to be great entertainment.  We cheer for “our side” to win.  Is it Biblical to tear down another person?  Is this pleasing to God?  Do we have the habit of running over people?  There are many examples in the Bible of people who made it their goal to tear people down.  Ahab hated Elijah.  Saul was out to get David.  Satan wanted to destroy Jesus’ ministry.

Unlike the candidates, we are to seek to build up others.  The word “discourage” has the idea of taking the heart out of a person.  Encouragement means “to put the heart into a person” Barnabas was a biblical character who encouraged others.  He encouraged the early church by his example. He encouraged Paul by befriending him.  He encouraged the church at Antioch by his teaching.  He encouraged John Mark by helping to restore him after his failure.  Love means to encourage others.  We don’t see a lot of love in the debates, but do we see this love and encouragement in our own lives?

4. Am I self-centered or God-centered?

By listening to the debates, you would think that Americans are the most self-centered people in the world.  Our politicians keep trying to pander to what each of us wants.  They appeal to our selfish nature.  I haven’t heard President Kennedy’s quote: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

It is easy for a Christian to develop this attitude of self-centeredness in this culture: however Christ has called his disciples to a life of self-denial.  “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).  Our lives are to be centered upon Christ.  Our goal is not to follow our desires, but His will. 

5. Am I more concerned about my physical well-being or my spiritual well-being?

One of the greatest issues of the debates and this campaign is the health care crisis in this nation.  Yes, we do have crisis in America concerning our health care. The physical health of Americans in general is quite poor.  However, the greatest crisis is not the physical well-being of Americans, but our spiritual well-being.

How healthy am I spiritually is a question, that we often neglect.  God is very concerned about our spiritual health.  He has given us His Word as food that will nourish our soul.  Here are some questions to help us evaluate our spiritual health:

  • Do I truly desire to walk with God daily?
  • Do I read the Bible with an open heart and mind?
  • Am I quick to obey the commands of Christ?
  • Do I quickly confess my sins to God?
  • Do I love God with all of my heart?
  • Do I love others as God loves me?

There are two more debates in this election cycle.  However, let’s not just look at President   Obama and Governor Romney in these debates, but also we need to think about our own lives and our relationship with God

“Dear Lord, I am thankful that I live in a nation in which I can worship you freely.  I also thank you for the great salvation that I have in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to view this life from your perspective.  Help me to center my life upon you because it is easy to take my focus from you.  While you are working in my life, please guide the leaders of our nation to make wise decisions. Amen”