Faithlife Sermons

Never Far From God

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I have always been uncomfortable when people say they or others are far from God.

I also feel uncomfortable when people say that the Spirit of God is not present in their life or in the life of others or in a worship Gathering or you name it. The reason I feel this way is because this idea of being far from God is in direct opposition of the Nature of God. If God is Omnipresent meaning everywhere at all times then by His nature God is never far away from His creation.
There is a difference between feeling far from God and being far from God. Being far from God means that God is unable to move close to us or we are unable to reach God.
I have never seen anyone that is out of the reach of God. I have seen people that feel far from God and I have had times in my life where I have felt far from God but those feelings are not based in reality. If we are seeking after God he is always in reach even when we do not feel like He is.
Paul understood this as he was preaching in Athens. As Paul was walking the streets he could not help but notice how much spiritual things ment to these people. They had idols and temples for everything even the unknown God just to cover their bases.
The people of Athens were a curious people and spiritual people…this led to good fortunes to anyone that was able to carve and idol or construct a temple. It also benefited people who were good and selling their version of truth for their own benefit.
Even with the influences of so many spiritual philosophies and the socioeconomics of the making of idols and temples Paul does not shrink from debating with philosophical and political leaders...
Paul sees the peoples spiritual desire and their openness to spiritual things as an opportunity not an obstacle to the message of Jesus Christ. I would suggest that we are in a similar time today. People are seeking and open to a way of life that is able to bring meaning and answers despite all the craziness we have been going through.
There is not a better time to introduce people we love to the incredible Love and Power of God than right now. This passage shows us how Paul and we are able to make and impact even though some have already made their minds or are looking at a variety of different sources for meaning
Acts 17:22-31 NLT
Acts 17:22–31 NLT
22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

Paul acknowledged their authentic search for truth.

This is what many people get wrong when we run into people that embrace other philosophies or God’s. This pursuit of the sacred is not a weakness or an evil but a God given desire that each of us would come to a saving knowlege of Jesus Christ.
That is why Paul addressed them a religious seekers. Had he addressed them as pagans, or evil people he would have never been welcome to introduce the unknown God that they were already worshipping.
Paul demonstrated that he was an educated thinker whose ideas were worth considering. He placed our God in the context of their own gods, showing that the God he proclaimed was not merely another god to add to their collection, but the unique One and only God.
Sometimes modern Christians want to focus on God as an either or proposition…Either a Loving God that cares for people or a God that is judging people. This is not only where most religious arguments start…but it is also a place where people who are looking for faith start to get confused. The get confused because both of these concepts are true but they are communicated as competing ideas instead of essential complimentary truths.
We need both a proactive father setting guidelines and giving us the tools we need to live a Holy Life and a Judge that will bring justice not simply vengeance.
God in the way the original hearers would have been familiar with would have been indifferent to the human condition. He would have had a long list of rules and regulations but no thought of giving people a means to live out that life. The idea of a benevolent God that actually cared about His servants was a revolutionary thought.

The World Needs the Awareness of God’s Constant Presence.

Not a vaccine for Corona virus, Not a thriving economy, not more church buildings, Our need is centered around a knowlege and presence of the saving Grace of Jesus and our continued discipleship or learning about the leading of the Holy Spirit.
If there is one thing I have been learning through modern times it is that our programs, plans, preconceived notions, and even preferences are not dependable when it comes to developing our faith…so instead of centering church or Christian community around any of these we must center it around a closeness to God.
As we rediscover who God is and how God really wants us to live in this world by shedding the superficial metrics we have created to define “Spiritual Success” we will find a God not hamstrung by the ideals of the human mind.
We will see instead a God that’s power is evident to His people and to all those who are truly seeking truth.

Discipleship is the Key to allowing God to use us to engage a curious world.

Discipleship in the Christian sense is the process of making someone become like Christ. The disciple of Christ is to become like Christ in everything. This allows Gods people to build the kingdom of God on earth by becoming more like Christ.
This is where we are to start not where we end up...
“When we start with a mission strategy, we usually end up running programs rather than sharing faith.” If we start with community, “we may end up with social circles rather than spiritual communities.” If we start with church structures, “they typically become an end in themselves. . . . Discipleship is reduced to serving the structures.” And “If we start with church service we are likely to end up as consumers rather than disciples.” Changing our services, structures and strategies without changing our lives will not lead to authentic worship, real community and effective mission. Maybe that is why the commission is to “make disciples,” not start a church service.” - Phillip Meadows (“Wesleyan Wisdom for Mission-Shaped Discipleship,” Journal of Missional Practice 3, January 2014.)
The best thing we can do during this time of limited connection is to make sure that we are aware of just how present God is with us every moment of every day. We do this by finding ways to know Him more so that we can come out on the other side of this able to bring the very real presence of God to the rest of the world.
Richard Rohor said this....We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What is absent is our awareness. Little do we realize that God is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another it means that God is choosing us now and now and now.

God Empowers us with His Presence to Engage the World

What a wonderful thing to carry in the midst of a pandemic…God is with us…God is with everyone…God Loves us…God Loves everyone…He is empowering us all to engage a world that is and will be searching. Let’s help others find a God that is really in plain sight.
That is one of the things I Love about Communion. It is a way for us to be reminded of how close God is to us…In this sacred sacrament God is as close as the bread and the Juice (Wine)
When we partake together we are celebrating his presence and our empowerment.
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