Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reflections on Walking with God

Missio Lux has been privileged to have some YWAM (Youth With a Mission) Students with us for the past couple of weeks. I love being around them because their passion for Jesus is so compelling. I have a strong sense of God’s presence when I am around them.

We are nearing the end of the ministry year, so it’s always a time of year when I do a lot of reflecting on how I’ve seen God at work ; in the seasons he has taken myself and others through, as well as Missio Lux as a whole.

Yesterday I realized that God has a way of taking us through our life with him in 3 P’s: Presence, Power and Principles. The Scriptures speak of God’s presence with us from start to finish, but I particularly like the verse in Joshua 1:9 that says, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We can live confidently because God is present with us.

The New Testament takes this theme even deeper when we realize that God loves our presence so much that he takes us residence within us: “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 1:21-22). Jesus describes this living relationship in John 15 when he states, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who live with me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.” Think about that: God chooses to literally come and live in our bodies. He is always present with us!

The second P is Power. When Jesus was ready to return to heaven he told the disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We have been given power to live the life that Jesus taught us to live, and many times we see ourselves doing things through the Holy Spirit power that we never dreamed we could do. Life gets far more adventurous when God’s power is released through us.

Finally, the 3rd P is: Principles. The Bible is a handbook for life in how we are taught to live. Many of the principles that our lives are built on, even as Americans, come from the principles of how Jesus teaches us to live. He gave us two priorities: the Great Commandment (love God, love ourselves, love others) and the Great Commission: Go and make disciples. Out of those priorities, principles flow of justice, mercy, grace, love, and generosity, to name just a few. Jesus told us that he didn’t come to abolish the law of Moses, but to fulfill it. The 10 Commandments are the heart of the law of Moses and when we live out of their guidance, we are protected from many of the things that harm our lives if we engage them. I like to think of them as God’s boundaries put in place to protect us.

Presence, Power and Principles.

I find that we often want to separate out these three areas of our life with God as one of these areas tends to make certain groups or individuals uncomfortable. Some people get nervous if too much “presence” is present. Others get antsy as they think about principles and how by living by rules, we can get legalistic and judgmental. Others shy away from anything to do with God’s power because often it can be overwhelming and scary.

I believe, however, that we must learn to integrate all three areas into our lives. It is when we live out of the moment to moment presence of God that we are able to discern how his power is moving and to cooperate with it to see kingdom breakthrough take place. And, living with Jesus’ principles as our foundational base keeps our funnel clear so that we can experience God’s presence and move out of his power. When our lives are far from God’s principles, we will find ourselves pushing against brick walls that never seem to budge.

You may be wondering how do we practically live out the 3Ps. Good question! It comes through living a balanced life that Jesus teaches us to live. He taught us to worship his father in spirit and truth. As we worship in spirit, we are moving more intentionally in experiencing his presence which transfigures us. As we worship in truth, we are engaging his Word which helps us to understand and live out Jesus’ principles. As we center our lives on Jesus and his ways, we begin to see his power rising up in us in the most unusual of moments, because we are available to him.

Finally, life with Jesus is not meant to be lived on our own. When we experience God’s presence in community with others, it spurs us forward to want to live a life aligned with his principles. When we see God’s principles being lived out in a community, it becomes attractive to others and it grows. And, when God’s power is present, transformation and healing happen.

In the early days of the New Testament Church, the leaders John and Peter were arrested and taken before the Jewish High Priest and Council. They were challenged not to speak about Jesus anymore or to boldly move in his power. When they were released, they came back to their community and told them what had happened and the threats that were made against them. The community responded in the 3P’s: Power, Presence and Principles when they prayed, “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29-32).

I hope that this will be our response to times of struggle and even persecution; as it was for these Jesus followers. It comes through an intentional decision to live daily as Jesus taught us to live through his presence, his power and his principles through Scripture. How are you balancing the 3p’s in your life?

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