Sunday, March 4, 2012

God Still Speaks

"Good morning. I am grateful you’re here to worship," Pastor Brad said, announcing, "We worship a big God."

There were two announcements this morning. First, to note the insert in our bulletin about prayer. The Covenant has always had a central message of calling people to hear, repent, believe… and praying for those who are far from Christ. Norm shared a second announcement about the need for volunteers March 23 to April 1 to go to Tuscaloosa in a re-building project there. Contact Mark Hudson (St. Louis County) or Norm.

Brad then asked, "Do you want to hear from God? Does God still speak? The answer is, yes, God still speaks." This would be the theme of today's sermon. Darlene then ushered us into worship this second Sunday in Lent with the "Here I Am To Worship."

Brad read a passage from the Pslams. “Out of the depths I cry… I wait for the Lord, more than the watchmen wait for the morning" and we sang the beautiful, "Knowing You>"

Brad shared how they were talking in the adult Sunday School class about how all that we have is a gift of God. “Now finish the work… according to your means.” The offering was taken while Darlene played a melodic song of thoughtful reflection.

The Scripture reading by Joanne was from Mark 9:2-9.

One reason for many new faces that were with us this morning was the Sacrament of Baptism for Braylee Frye, infant daughter of Sean and Kim. Brad shared how the Covenant church views baptism as a symbolic act but even though it is not a saving act, it is a picture of God’s initiative in a child’s life. God initiates, and we can look back to His prevenient grace, His sign of desire to bring to fulfillment His promises in and for us.

The prayer time, which included expressions of gratefulness and intercession, was followed by the sermon.

God Still Speaks

Is God trying to talk to you? Is God trying to talk to me? Does God actually want to lead our lives?

Is it possible some of you are saying, “I am having to make some big time decisions right now. I want to know if I’m where I’m supposed to be? How do I know?”

Some decisions in life are not that big. Oatmeal or Pop Tart? White shirt or blue shirt? These are not big decisions, but some decisions really are big and loom over us.

Back up a sec… Does God even care? I know God spoke to Abraham and Moses, but does God speak to ordinary people like me?

The Bible has many very practical principles around this topic. Knowing God’s will is not like trying to find Waldo in Where Waldo books.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."

Prosper here does not mean being incredibly wealthy. It means God cares about our well-being. A hope and a future is promised here.

Brad said he wanted to share two principles today. The first is that God’s will is more about who you are than where you go or what you do. It’s not about where you’ll work or who you marry, but it’s about who you are.

What if you figured out the right place God wanted you, but never made yourself the person God wanted you to be. Even if you are in the right place, you can be out of God’s will if you are not the person God wants you to be in that place.

Give your whole life, completely, to God. Worship is this: being His always in all things. Romans 12:1-2 puts it this way...

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I have to continually be in God’s word, I have to continue to place my life in His hands, on His altar.

“Brad, I know all this stuff. What I want to know is whether it should be Bachelor #2 or Bachelor #1. I want to know if it is door number two or door number one.”

But God says when we put ourselves on the potter’s wheel and let Him mold us, we’ll know.

God’s will… rejoice in all circumstances, praying always.

Many questions do not require deep prayer. The Scriptures spell things out in many areas. I Thessalonians 4 notes that it is God’s will that live lives that are holy and pure. Ephesians 5 speaks of walking in the way of love, putting aside sexual immorality, greed, foolish talk and coarse joking. We need to work on being more selfless and in verse 17 Paul says to be intoxicated by God, not wine.

God would rather be a sculptor in our lives than a traffic cop. God would rather be a watercolor artist than the answer man at the Mall of America who tells us how to find the bathroom. God wants to make each of us into something beautiful, His masterpiece.

The second principle Brad put forth was this: God wants us to desire Him more than we want to know His answers.

“Excuse me, do you really love Me, or do you really just want answers?” It is not God’s desire for us to be using God like a Google search engine. God wants us to know Him, not all the answers.

Brad then told us the story of Brother Lawrence, a lay brother who spent most of his life working in the kitchen at a monastery in France. He was not educated enough to become a cleric, so he washed dishes, but all the while he practiced the presence of God. His writings were later assembled into a book that had touched countless people since, The Practicing of the Presence of God. "There is nothing more holy than living in His presence," he wrote.

This, too, was David’s one request: “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever… “

It is out of that intimate friendship that God’s answers begin to flow.

“I will instruct you in the way you ought to go, and I will guide you with My eye upon you.” In order for us to have God’s guidance, we need to be seeking His face. Brad shared the example of being at a party with your spouse across the room and with her eyes she says it’s time to go… God wants to communicate this way with us, Brad said. It was a beautiful way for us to transition into Communion.

Our mission here at New Life Covenant: Connect, Grow, Become

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