Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I guess you just had to be there...”
If all you do is hear someone else’s stories, and you never have an experience of your own - God will say: “I guess you just had to be there...”
[PAYOFF] - God never intended to be someone you only just hear about through others experiences. He’s always intended for YOU to have YOUR experience with Him.
Others’ stories are important, but they are only intended to inspire your own story!
[STORY] - First saved. Youth revival. Called to ministry.
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it!
There are some issues that words cannot fix!
In a world of so many religions, how can anyone know what is real?
Jesus said: I will back up my words with power! (signs/wonders)
I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
We need to be a body of believers who not only believe on the testimony of others, but because we’ve had our OWN experience.
[TRANSITION] - I can’t answer all of the questions, but it’s too late - I’ve already had any experience!
[STORY] - Jesus heals a man blind from birth...
Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
[PAYOFF] - The greatest proof that Jesus is Lord = CHANGED LIVES!
[CAREFUL] - But, don’t just seek the goose bumps!
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
[PAYOFF] - We can do church good! We’ve been practicing for 2000 years… but is that what this is about? Better church services?
We need to encounter God!
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
Hosea give us the prescription...
Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
3 words to plow your ground...
God is looking for people who aren’t content with what they already have...
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Pride, more than anything, will keep us from experiencing God!
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
[PAYOFF] - You will never encounter God, doing it your own way.
We’ve got to allow the cleansing work of God in our lives.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
There is a greater reason for our encounters...
In light of these encounters? Why do they happen here on Earth?
Why an encounter here? Why not just bring us to Heaven for the greatest encounter?
Why is the Church here?
Our encounter will reveal God’s love for us - Yes.
But, once we encounter His love, we encounter His purpose and focus… object of His love...
Do you believe you are the ONLY object of His love????
[PAYOFF] - Church, we need to experience God for ourselves, but also to help others experience Him!