Sunday Morning Podcast July 21, 2019. Bro. Dave Goble.
TEXT: PROVERBS 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
A close and personal God. How faraway or close God is, has a lot to do with how one’s life will unfold! If you don’t have a relationship, that is close and personal with God, it’s not certain how you will deal with life’s adversities when they hit you. “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” a friend that is a counselor, healer, confidant, helper, etc. Have you allowed God to be close and personal, or is He for you, small and faraway? Our behavior will demonstrate how close God really is to us. Acts 16:22-28, Paul and Silas in this passage, had done nothing wrong, but were falsely accused imprisoned and beaten. When this happens to us on any scale, we might get angry and express all kinds of negative emotions. Here Paul and Silas in the midst of this persecution, were praying and singing. Still singing, praying, so God was close to them, ..right there! Right while they, Paul and Silas, were in such great pain, though this great injustice to them is not as much recorded, ..as their praising God. So how does one stay that close so that this is also their testimony? This passage tells (Acts 16:22-28) how God’s close Presence shook the very foundation, to deliver them! Acts 7:58-60, Steven, prior, had had only a religious affiliation, but now he had one that was close and present! Steven had been falsely accused. But like Paul, he was close and present with God. God was so very close and personal it gave Steven power to behave like Christ, which here makes him a type of Christ. Any one of us, can find our own selves in a dangerous situation like Steven and Paul did.
This message is meant to examine us whether we really are close and personal with God. John 19:23-27, Here’s a man on the cross, (Jesus, Son of God) unfairly and falsely accused, beaten, dying for the sins of all humanity, in intense pain, trying to breathe. He was stripped of his clothes, which lots were being cast for. He hears this ultimate insult…their gambling for His clothes! They showed no concern for Him. And yet, the first concern He has is for His mother, and Mary Magdalene. He says to His beloved disciple, “My mother is now your mother, and to her, …now he is your son! His concern is for someone else, while dying! When God is close and personal our behavior will reflect this. When it is faraway, our behavior will also reflect this baser part of our humanity. We are all initially subjected …to God being faraway. Luke 23:32-34; Jesus doesn’t first express being upset with them, but instead ask, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” He doesn’t want them to go to hell for their wickedness! When God is close and personal, that is how our behavior is! When Paul and Silas were being persecuted, they still praised and prayed to God, because God was close and personal! When God first changes you, you have a desire to love and to help others to be filled with God’s love, which will be shown by the spiritual fruit in your life. This is one of the first signs of your life becoming from small and faraway, to being close and present with God. To be aware of another’s sufferings, is good for us! It is good to be aware of other’s sufferings, with an empathizing, and spiritual grace to reach them even in the midst of our own need! It takes being close and personal, instead of being distant to God, which will cause us to respond in being upset and lashing out. Paul and Silas could see the need and pain of the prison keeper. to reach out to them. Jesus could see His mother, and reached out while on the cross! Stephen cried out for his persecutors that were stoning him, instead of thinking of himself. The reaching out to others is not a false humility.
Love your enemies so others can see God close and present with you. In Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” It’s easier to love those that are at peace with you, but it takes love and power to love those who are against, and persecute us. God sends grace that allows us to do that which only the Spirit can do. It can only come when God is close and present. If I have allowed the flesh to interfere, I have allowed God to be small and faraway. I have allowed myself to be jeopardized, for God to be small and faraway. Devotions and prayer are essential for our soul’s well being! Otherwise our soul suffers. Not just reading and praying….but while also being in the Spirit! We’ll know when we have a “Steven and being stoned moment,” if God really is close and present. When someone else is suffering, do we have a genuine concern before anything else? Be present …with their suffering! It’s not simple, but necessary while in the midst of being misunderstood, to still have a genuine concern for other’s needs. 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. 13 To the end he may stablish your heart unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Let Jesus increase in your soul (*walking after the Spirit”), while you decrease in walking after the flesh. Don’t be surprised when in things, you don’t have grace, …if God has been small and faraway. Peter found himself lacking, but God later was able to heal his soul, because Peter then became close and personal with Him. He can do the same for anyone else also!
The Intimate God. Are you close and present with God, …or small and far away?