Monday, March 2, 2009

When was the last time I was “Lost in His Presence?”

What an awesome time I had with my wife last week as we celebrated our 25th anniversary. We went on a cruise to the Caribbean and had an absolute blast. It was very relaxing. I always enjoy spending time with my best friend and the love of my life, outside of Jesus, of course.

Thank you to those who read my blog while I was away. I have several SOAP post that I look forward to sharing with you this week. In my personal journal, I take the acrostic S.O.A.P. and study a text from God's Word for that day. It is a great way to study God's Word and to journal. As I told you in earlier posts, I got this idea from Pastor and Author Wayne Cordeiro. I would like to share today's SOAP with you:


Acts 22:14-17 "Then he said, 'The God of our ancestors has handpicked you to be briefed on his plan of action. You've actually seen the Righteous Innocent and heard him speak. (15) You are to be a key witness to everyone you meet of what you've seen and heard. (16) So what are you waiting for?
Get up and get yourself baptized,
scrubbed clean of those sins and personally acquainted with God.' (17) "Well, it happened just as Ananias said. After I was back in Jerusalem and praying one day in the Temple,
lost in the presence of God,


In this text, Paul is recounting how he was raised a strict Pharisee and discusses his "pedigree." He then shares with his audience how he hated Christianity and was used to torture Christians. One day he was on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians when he had an encounter with Jesus. He was blinded and was changed by the power of Jesus. In fact, he was blinded and was instructed to find a man named Ananias to pray for him and disciple him. Paul told his story in a way that glorified Christ and dignified the Christian movement. Here is a dramatic "before-and-after" account of the transformation of a human being. It is witnessing at its very best. Paul described the man he was and the man Christ had enabled him to be. At each stage of his evolving witness he clarified that it was Christ who had changed him. The careful recounting of his conversations with the Lord established the truth. Jesus Christ was alive, and He was the guiding Lord of Paul's life.

A man said to his pastor, "You've gone from preaching to meddling!" Preaching is meddling, sooner or later. We all have areas in our lives we want to reserve away from the searching eye and remedial penetration of the Savior. There are times that relationships, expenditures, and unhealed memories, as well as values, customs, and ways of reacting, are excluded from the Master's reformation.


How does this apply to me today? In this midst of his discourse Paul says, (16) "So what are you waiting for?
Get up and get yourself baptized,
scrubbed clean of those sins and personally acquainted with God.' (17) "Well, it happened just as Ananias said. After I was back in Jerusalem and praying one day in the Temple,
lost in the presence of God".

Well, first of all God asks Paul, "what are you waiting for? Get up and get..." (baptized). This is realization. I must realize that I am have as much of God in my life right now as I want. For me, the Lord is asking today, "what are you waiting for" to grow in this day? Get up and get after it. This is about discipline. Too often I (we) complain about what we haven't been able to do or accomplish. Whose fault is it? Who or what am I going to blame? My lack of discipline in my daily choices is usually the culprit. Daily choices in: the food I eat, the lack of exercise, not REALLY spending time with the Lord, not REALLY allowing God's Word to breathe life into me, the lack of FRUIT of the Spirit in my life, etc.

Paul was then told by God to get up get himself baptized and "scrubbed clean of those sins" This is repentance. I need to live in a perpetual state of repentance. Not allowing sin to dominate my life or my MIND. "Forgive me Lord for my selfishness, foolishness, and carnality. I truly want to please you."

Thirdly, Paul was told to "personally get acquainted with God." This is relationship. It is easy to go through the motions in our walk with God. When we do this, we can begin to drift in our fervency, zeal and commitment to Jesus Christ, we lose the joy and excitement of our salvation, and we leave our first love. Forgive me Lord for emphasizing religion and not a personal relationship with Jesus.

Finally, Paul said that he was "lost in the presence of God." This is renewal (revival). When is the last time that I truly became lost in the presence of God in: my corporate worship at church? Whose fault is it? It isn't the worship leader or the song selection, it is about my heart. How about in my personal worship? Do I get away from everything that could hinder me? Do I turn off the TV and seclude myself from anything that will divide my heart and attention from God? I want to much, much more...I need to be... lost in your presence daily! At the very least, a lot more than I find the occasion to currently.


"Dear Jesus, I need you today, as I do everyday. However, I sense the need even greater right now. As I read in my text today, Paul was changed by an encounter with you. He found himself lost in your presence. The reason he was able to be lost in your presence is because he realized that he was wrong and a sinner. I know and realize this evening that I am a sinner. I need your grace, mercy and forgiveness. Outside of you, there is nothing good in me. But thank you for depositing good within me through your grace. After Paul realized his need of you, he repented of his sins, he developed and maintained a relationship with you, and then he was renewed. The key for Paul was recognizing that you are not looking for religion by personal relationship. Forgive me for not taking the time to get lost in your presence on a daily basis. I have no one to blame but me. I need greater discipline in my life. With your Holy Spirit energizing, nudging, and directing me, I will get back to that daily encounter with you where I become lost in you presence. That is what you desire, and that is what I want to desire. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness and patience with me. I love you Lord, and look forward to more intimate times together with you as I re-examine my daily choices and disciplines. In Jesus name, amen!"