14 Sep Getting In Tune With God
Have you ever been listening to a sermon or in a worship environment and felt the presence of God so strongly that you were completely undone? You are hearing God speak to your heart so strongly that it’s almost audible. You can’t think about anything but His majesty and His mercy. And right next to you, someone is checking his watch, thinking about the Cowboys’ kick-off time. He can’t wait to hear the dismissal, and you can’t wait to run to the altar for prayer. Could there be different levels of perception when it comes to God?
Let’s look at John 12:27-29. There are three people or groups of people depicted in this scene: (1) Jesus, (2) the crowd, and (3) others. In this verse, God is talking to Jesus from the heavens about His crucifixion. Jesus heard the Father clearly. The crowd heard thunder. The others thought an angel spoke to him. What kept the crowd and others from hearing the voice of God? Some of them probably weren’t saved. Others could have been in rebellion to God. Whatever the reason, they weren’t in tune with God, and thus, they could not hear His voice. Even when God screams from heaven, and you are right in the midst of it, it is very possible that you may not even hear Him.
Yesterday in church, Pastor John talked about how we can get in tune with God. In order to do so, we must practice some things. It’s how we get better at our hobbies, school, work, or anything else we do. But it’s also how we should look at our Christian lives. We must become imitators. There are three types of practice that must come together if we are to develop our in-tuneness with God.
- Personal Spiritual Practices. Mark 1:35 says that even Jesus secluded himself and prayed. We need to follow His example and make sure we spend alone time with God. We can do this by reading scripture, prayer, silence, journaling, or even simplifying our lifestyles.
- Community of Faith Practices. Acts 2:42 says that the early Christians were continually devoted to meeting, teaching, fellowship, and eating together. If you want to grow into Christ-likeness and into in-tuneness, it is not enough to practice personal spiritual things. You must be involved with others and take an active role in their lives. “Going to church” means gathering for communal, spiritual practices, engaging a kind of group workout. Whether it is Sunday church or Mini Church, here are some things that happen as we gather together:
- Inconvenience. Going to church is inconvenient. It means going to a place you didn’t choose at a time you didn’t choose for a purpose you DO choose. Usually when you least want to go is the time you need to go the most.
- Preparation. Just like we prepare for work each day by showering, brushing our teeth, etc. (hopefully), we should prepare for church by prayer, Scripture reading, and even discussing with our kids why we go to church.
- Hospitality. Gives us the chance to practice life being about others, not ourselves.
- Singing. It involves our bodies, our souls, our hearts, and our minds. It involves truth, art and beauty, and many other voices, united in one common song.
- Common Commitment. Whether we know it or not, every time we cross the threshold of the church building, we are committing ourselves anew to the mission of Christ in the world. By entering with others, we find that there are others who have made that same commitment.
- Listening Practices. Attentiveness is getting lost in today’s culture. During a sermon, people are constantly carrying on a dialogue with the message and the messenger. We are tying the text of Scripture and sermon notes to the issues in our own lives, allowing us to discern and interpret what God is saying to us.
- Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon. People know when they have messed up. They need to come to God and ask for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We need to confess our sins not only to God, but to one another.
You cannot get where you want to go without the community of faith practices.
- Mission Practices. Matthew 28:19 clearly tells us to “go.” The sign on our door when you walk out of SMCC says, “You are entering your mission field.” The reason we gather in community is to go out and live counter-culturally and live out that lifestyle in front of others. What are some mission practices you can do?
- Forgiving those who wrong us
- Bringing peace to the workplace
- Praying for the sick
- Refraining from judgment and showing mercy and compassion instead
- Confronting evil and injustice
- Serving others
- Associating with the lowly
- Associating and eating with sinners
- Speaking the truth in love
- Practicing neighborliness
- Preferring the poor rather than showing favoritism to the rich
- Showing empathy
I come to the garden alone,
while the dew is still on the roses.
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
the Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
and He tells me I am His own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.
– “In The Garden” by C. Austin Miles
Not only should we make these practices an integral part of our lives, we must realize that each of them work together.