Meet with God where He said He would be | Pathways to God's presence | Gospel Spice Winter

Jan 16, 2023

Welcome to our winter 2023 series, "Pathways to God's presence." How do we keep our relationship with God fresh and not stale? How do we avoid being disappointed or dissatisfied with our relationship with God? How do we explore fresh avenues to meet with Him especially when it’s dry or painful? How do we keep vibrant faith in the valley, in the pit, in the darkness, and also in the high places – how do we make God the center of our lives?

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 Jesus walked with God perfectly at all times – in perfect harmony and communion. He tells us to imitate Him. How can we do that? how do we grow spiritually so that we experience the freshness and vibrancy that Jesus had with His Father? His connection to His Father was so obvious, especially when He prayed, that the disciples begged Him to show them how to pray. His connection to His Father was so deep, there was no disconnect ever. He always knew the Father’s will for all situations at all times. He could orchestrate healings and miracles at will, because He was so finely tuned in to His Father. We will never experience this measure of connection to the Father this side of heaven – because of sin – but Jesus still promised much intimacy with the Father through Him was possible, and even the normal life for the believer. In my experience and in talking with hundreds of people, I don’t think most of us live in the fullness of this promise of unbroken connection to our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. Many times we live the low Christian life. Nothing wrong with that – but there is so much more that is possible, attainable for us. We are called to a high Christian life, one that is characterized by love, humility, victory, and much fruit.

Our series is called, “Pathways to God’s presence.” Let me be clear: Jesus is the way to the Father. The only way to the Father. Apart from Him we have no access. He is also our Advocate, interceding for us even now, and we know that His prayers are always welcomed and answered from the fullness of the Father’s abundance. So, when we are going to be pondering pathways to God’s presence, we must always remember – Jesus is the One who makes these pathways possible. That is why he is our role model, our guide. He is the way. He is also the destination. We are doing all that we do to cultivate intimacy with God, ONLY From Christ and in Christ and for Christ and through Christ. I think we underestimate this dimension of our spiritual life when we don’t place front and center the model that Jesus has given us. Jesus, before time began and before the incarnation, was perfectly intimate and one and united with the Father. That is the Trinity. We cant understand it, but we can apprehend just enough of it to see its matchless harmony and radiance. Then at the incarnation, and for the thirty-some years that followed, Jesus who was God and had been with God since before time was (see John 1:1), this Jesus took on fullness of humanity. And he walked among us, not lessening in any way the depth of intimacy He had always enjoyed with His Father. Only at the cross, and momentarily though thoroughly, was it severed—for our sake. So, yes, Jesus is indeed the only Pathway to God’s presence. But He also gave us means to grow in intimacy with God, just like He did as a human – He prayed and fasted and studied Scripture and had fellowship with others and served and loved and discipled and evangelized and role-modeled all the things He is inviting us to develop in our own lives as pathways to His presence. He is the way and He is the destination.

The secret to the high Christian life, a life of satisfaction in God regardless of circumstances – good or bad, internal or external – the secret to the high Christian life is to practice the presence of God. What does it look like? Why is it even the key to our problem of stale, boring faith? We will explore this together over the course of this series. We will look at the theology and the practice of it. Actually, it will be the bulk of our episode today.

What are the spiritual disciplines and what do they have to do with pathways to God’s presence? Nowhere does the Bible give us a definitive list of the spiritual disciplines, and depending on how you read some passages, you can discern more or less some aspects of them. In other words, we can all have different lists and all be okay. Some spiritual disciplines have everyone’s vote: we all see prayer, or Bible study, or worship as essential components of our faith, major thoroughfares to experience the presence of God. I would suggest they are the main three pathways to the presence of God, and then there are countless ways to define them. Prayer has many elements to it, as does worship and the intake of Scripture. We will ponder one element of each one of these three each week together. There are many more spiritual disciplines, and I can guarantee you that we will not cover them extensively throughout this series! We will mention them, practice them, and hopefully they will come together like so many ingredients of a recipe, so that you will indeed taste and see that the Lord is good. Through the prism of worship, Bible intake and prayer we will look at sabbath, service, stewardship of talent, resources and time, as well as fasting, evangelism and discipleship, fellowship and community, even silence and solitude as essential pathways to God’s presence. If you practice particular disciplines for your benefit, I would love to hear from you. We need to learn from one another! Please comment on social media or send us an email. I mean that. we want to hear how you walk the pathways to God’s presence!

Some spiritual disciplines are personal, others are corporate, or communal. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that each discipline has a personal component and a public component – there are different ways to practice them. For example there is private and public prayer; there is personal worship, and then there is worship on Sundays at church. There is private Bible study, reading and memorizing, and there is the public teaching of the Word at church or in small groups or through one-on-one discipleship, and then there is the public sharing of the Word through evangelism.

Join us this season on the pathways to God's presence!

Catch up with Stephanie's latest episodes on the Gospel Spice podcast!

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