Asbury Free Methodist – November 22, 2020
This is our last in the series of discipleship skills – at least for a little while. Next week is the first Sunday of Advent – and in a way I will be giving some discipleship skills through the advent series. Next week I am going to be talking about Fostering Hope, the week after that Fostering Peace, and then Joy and Love.
If you have some friends that need hope, I encourage you to encourage them tune in next week.
If you are a follower of Jesus and put your faith in Jesus, there are some things that are true about you. Colossians 1:27 talk about Christ in you’re the hope of glory. Jesus say in John 14:17 that the Holy Spirit lives in you. In short, if you are a follower of Christ – your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Christ lives in you – You are in Christ and Christ is in you.
I don’t think that will be new news to you, but it is something that is amazing to contemplate. The God of the universe lives in you. The presence of God is with you.
As Christians we live in this world of the Spirit. It comes to the forefront of lives when we make space for God, by taking the time to worship, to come to church, to connect with God in our daily time with God. Our spiritual lives come to the forefront as we study his word, and as we share what is going on in our spiritual lives with one another.
You know you are spiritual beings and Christ lives in you. But we also live in this world. To live in this world, means going to work, and having coffee with friends, and being on social media, and living in relationship with your family, and having hobbies, and reading books or watching television.
Sometimes it feels like we just don’t live in one world, but that we live in many different worlds. When I go to my mom’s place in my role as a son, it feel like a very different world than when I go out with a small group of friends, which is a very different world than hanging out with my own family, which is a different world than being at Asbury.
Many of you live in worlds of work and family and hobbies and friends and volunteers and church.
We have this sense that God is to be a part of all of those worlds and all of our lives, and yet sometimes it feels like he is part of some of our worlds and not part of other of our worlds.
We have read scripture and it says
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;
And we think, how do we do that?
We read, Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
We wonder, how do we do that? How do I let God be part of each world? I don’t know about you, but I cannot do paperwork and pray at the same time. I just don’t have the mind space to do two things at once. If I am fully present to someone in a conversation, then I have real difficulty focusing on them and on God at the same time.
I have this sense that I need to bring God into the rest of my worlds, but how do I do that? That is the discipleship skill that I want to teach you today.
I want to teach this to you because if we are going to be the kind of people that we are called to be then God has to come into each world that we are a part of. We need to become aware of his presence and bring is power to bear on every part of our lives.
Have you ever wondered how Christians end up saying horrible things on social media? – God has not come into that part of their world. Have you ever wondered how politics can triumph over love in some Christians lives? – it is because God has not come into that part of their world – even though they would argue up and down that their opinion is right and maybe even Christian. If you have right opinions without real love for those who you disagree with, then Christ has not come into that part of your world.
Have you ever wondered about how Christians behave in their relationships, or in their businesses, or in sports? The chances are that when they are behaving poorly, that Christ has not come into that part of your world.
But it is just not other people. How is it that I can sing worship songs and be at such peace, but then walk into social situations and be anxious. How is it that joy is so elusive in some situations? Could it be that God is part of our lives but really not a part of other parts of our lives.
And here is the thing about God. God doesn’t just care about your spiritual life. He cares about your family and your friends and your work and your hobbies and your down time. God cares about each world that you are in.
John writing to Gaius, a person that we don’t know much about, wrote this.
3 John 2 (NIV)
2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
I pray that you experience good health, and that all may go well with you – even as your spiritual life goes well. God cares about the whole of like.
So, the question is, how do we bring him into the whole of life. Or maybe a more accurate question is, how do we become aware that he is present in every part of our lives – because he is. How do we become aware of his presence, so that we can bring his power and his promises to bear on all of our lives?
Let us start off with some basics. You don’t have to use words to pray and to worship. Paul writes to the Corinthians and says,
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
What ever you do, make it a prayer. Your actions become prayers; your eating becomes worship.
A friend of mine walked the El Camino in Spain. It was a pilgrimage of sort, where they walked the over 800-kilometer trail. He entitled his blog – every step a prayer. It wasn’t that he was praying all the time – but his steps were a prayer. They were dedicated to the glory of God.
That is a great metaphor for life. Every step a prayer. Every car ride a prayer. Every meal a prayer. Every social media post a prayer. Every day at work a prayer. Every step a prayer.
But here is the thing, every step only becomes a prayer if you let it become one. The reason why Paul has to say
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Is because there were some things going on in the Corinthian church that were not to the glory of God. So, how do we make every step a prayer? How do you become aware of the presence of God and bring is power to bear in every part of your life?
The goal is that you will get to a place in your spiritual life where this is as natural as breathing. You don’t have to think about it, because it is just who you are. But until we get to that place, we need to do the work of making turning to God throughout a day habit.
The first question you have to answer is do you really want God to be part of every part of your life. You will not form a habit of turning to God if you do not want the habit to be formed. Forming a habit takes effort. You will only make an effort if you want what that effort will bring.
Some of you may not want God to come into every area of your life – because there are parts that you have not submitted to him. There are probably more of you who have areas that you want to submit to him, but you are finding it a challenge. You know the good you ought to do, but you are not doing it or bad you need to keep away from, but are drawn to it. This is exactly why we need to bring God into every part of our lives.
But you need to answer the question, do I want God to be part of every part of my life?
I will say this, if you want to move from life being ordinary to being supernatural, then this is the way to go.
So, I want to teach you the three “R’s”
We want to create a habit of recalling that we are living in the presence of God, and to bring the power of God to bear on every situation in our lives. So, the first thing that needs to happen is that we need to call to mind that God is in us. But that is challenge -right. We often don’t remember and so we just go on with life. What we need is a trigger to remember.
A trigger is something that happens in our regular life, that causes us to remember to go through a routine, to get a reward.
By the way, this is how any habit works. Some of you walk into the kitchen, that triggers a remembrance of chips in the cupboard. The routine is you go to the cupboard and get chips. The reward is the taste of the chips.
Most of our life is run on habits like these. We get up in the morning. We walk into the bathroom. That is the trigger to brush our teeth, we go through the routine of brushing our teeth. The reward is a fresh mouth and good teeth.
The first “R” is remember. So, if we are going to remember that God is part of every part of our lives, then we are going to need a set of triggers, that will cause us to remember.
I am going to give you two sets of triggers that you can use. Pick the set that is right for you.
The first set of triggers is the traditional triggers or the basic triggers. These come from the practice in monasteries, and have been adapted to regular life. The triggers are
When you get up in the morning
Before every meal
When you go to bed at night.
Some of you do this already. It has been part of your life. You pray when you get up. You pray before meals and you pray before you go to bed at night.
Since I am talking about this, let me give you a piece of culturally relevant wisdom. How you start your day really matter. In fact, the first half hour to hour of your day, will set the tone for your whole day.
Around Asbury we talk a lot about discipleship. But let me ask you this question, what is the primary discipler in our culture? It is our phones. I know that many people’s first impulse when they get up in the morning is to check their phone. Check the social media feeds, Facebook, Instagram, or twitter. Then they will move on to check their email. Then they will check their preferred news source.
How you start your day really matters. I want to urge you to spend time with God. Or at least, don’t be discipled by your phones for the first hour of your day.
Let me get back on track. The first set of triggers for remembering God in all of life is the traditional one – When you get up in the morning, before every meal – or every snack. When you go to bed at night.
Another set of triggers that you can use is each transition in your day. This one can be added to the traditional set of triggers. So, when you get into your car, or when you get to work, or when you take a coffee break, or when you move from one task to another. This set of triggers is far more pervasive, and a little more difficult initially, but more help in the long run. It is a question of effort.
What triggers will you use. You decide on a set of triggers that are going to help you remember God in throughout your day. If this is new to you, this take time and work to put into practice. You probably won’t get it right, right away – but keep on making the effort.
The next “R” is Routine.
So, you remember to practice the presence of God, what do you do. There are a number of things that you can do. So, if the situation calls for something different – do what it calls for. But if you are just going about your normal life, then you want to recognize his presence. You can simply say a silent prayer like – Jesus I recognize that you are in me and around me and with me.
Then you want to invite him to have is way in the present moment. You could pray something like, Lord I ask that your kingdom would come and your will would be done right now in me and around me.
Then you can ask if there is anything there is anything you can do to cooperate with him in the present. You might say, Lord is there anything I can do to more fully cooperate with you right now?
So, the whole prayer would go something like, Jesus I recognized that you are with me. I ask for your kingdom to come and your will to be done in this present moment. Let me know if there is anything that I can do to cooperate with you.
(Pray a couple of times)
How long will that take you to pray. Probably 10 seconds. Depending on what you are doing you may stop, or you may pray this prayer as you transition from one task to another.
Again, if you want to pray a different pray, do that. These are breath prayers. You are just saying a simple prayer. Recognizing God’s presence and you are looking for his will to be done, and you want to cooperate with him.
Now we move into the Reward. When you become conscious that God is with you, and when you are inviting him to work in your life and you are looking for his guidance – something will happen. You will start to see God show up more and more in your life. You will be reminded to pray for a person and then you will see God answer more prayers. As you look for God in your daily life, you will find him showing up more.
Making every step a prayer will take your spiritual life to a whole new level. God is going to show you new things in your life. It is a guard against anxiety because you are bringing God into each situation. I believe you will start to see more answers to prayers, because you are praying about more things.
So, my question to you is will you practice the presence of God.
Sermon Questions – Practicing the Presence of God
Sermon from – November 22, 2020 – Asbury Free Methodist
1. What are you giving thanks for?
2. What is your most important prayer request today?
3. Read John 14:16-20 – What do these verses tell us about where the trinity is located? How does this make you feel?
4. If Jesus is with us and in us – why is it so easy to forget that as we go about our every day lives? When are you most likely to remember that God is with you and when are you most likely to forget that God is with you?
5. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. What do you find challenging to live out from these verses?
6. The phrase “Practicing the presence of God” was first coined by Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived in the middle ages. (You can download a book about him on kindle for a couple of dollars.) He lived his life in the conscious presence of God. We can learn to do the same by cultivating the habit of remembering that God is near.
7. The traditional “triggers” for remembering to pray is
Getting up in the morning.
Praying before breakfast, lunch and supper
Praying before bed.
8. What other triggers could you use to remind you that God is near?
9. When you remember then it is time to pray. What prayer would be a good prayer for you to pray when you are triggered to do so at different times of the day. The suggested on is
Jesus I recognized that you are with me. I ask for your kingdom to come and your will to be done in this present moment. Let me know if there is anything that I can do to cooperate with you.
Can you improve on that prayer for yourself?
10. What are the benefits or “Rewards” to practicing the presence of God.?
11. What are the biggest challenges to practicing the presence of God?
See blog for a quick reminder of the process