June 28 – Sunday School Study
Focus chapters 5 and 7
Chapter 5 notes
Over time distance develops in all relationships – In a marriage relationship we have times when we are closer to our spouse and times when we drift apart. We struggle to understand each other during times when we have drifted apart. When that happens, we have to set aside time to rekindle the relationship.
The same thing happens in our relationship with God. We all get busy with life and have times when we drift away. We struggle more to understand God. Our relationship needs to be rekindled – revived.
“Besides neglect, another reason for distance from God is that we tend to become convinced that we are completely passive in our salvation – that there is nothing for us to work on. We pray a prayer or go forward at a meeting receive God’s gift of salvation, and feel excited about Jesus for a while. But then, as in the parable of our soils, the vitality of our faith gets choked out by the cares of life or withers in the sun on shallow, rocky ground. Has anyone ever explained to you that the Christian life is a relationship that requires your participation?
Paul’s words of encouragement to the Christians in Philippi hold the key for us: ‘Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.’
To many of us, those words are life fingernails on a chalkboard. Work? I thought the Christian life was a free gift! So we hurriedly skip over the next verse with a sigh of relief: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.’
Did you catch the paradox in those two verses? Yes, it is God who works in us. And he works first. It’s called grace! We are utterly dependent on him to draw us to himself and save us. So God does the real work of drawing us and dispensing his grace and saving us for all eternity. It’s all true!
Then what is this work that Paul says we are to do? It is the work of participating with God in a growing, increasingly intimate relationship with him. We are not passive spectators in our relationship with God. It is not a one-sided friendship, and we are not just along for the ride.”
“Look at the church you attend today – or better yet, look at your own life – and ask: What will m motivate me to actively share with others the story of my relationship with Jesus? What will make me want to pray? What will motivate me to dig into the Bible and truly study the Word of God with an eye toward having my life changed? What will infuse my worship with a deep and authentic hunger for God’s presence? The only answer is a restored (revived) love for God.
This is serious business. Having a deep and fervent love for God is not optional for Christians. Jesus told the Ephesian Christians that he would personally remove their lampstand from its place unless they repented. A lampstand is a source of light. The light is the gospel of Jesus – that which sines through us and sets us ‘above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.’
What a strong warning for us today!”
“Experiencing the presence of God is not optional in the Christian life; it’s not something reserved for the spiritual elite or the mystics on the mountaintop. It is, and should be, an ongoing reality for all believers because it’s only in God’s presence that our love for him is revived and nurtured. Detached, coldhearted passivity is our enemy. That’s why, if we have lost the passion and fervor and zeal and enthusiasm of our first love, we mut seek to restore it.”
“To be Christian is to be dedicated to loving God.”
‘Christianity is a heart religion.”
The knowledge we have of God must move from our head to our heart to be transforming. It must become our driving force. If God’s Word is not our driving force we need to be revived.
Chapter 7 notes
This chapter begins with a powerful statement.
“What is the one thing that often hinders a person from experiencing the presence of God? “
He goes on to explain that statement.
We often take the written exam to get our license but never get into the drivers seat. We know all of the rules and regulations but we never get practice what we know.
That statement and his explanation really made me stop and think. How often do we practice our faith? We have studied the scripture. We attend Sunday school or bible study. We do a short devotion in the morning. We attend church on Sunday morning. We know God – but do we practice what we know? What does it mean to practice?
“A life of growth into greater intimacy with God is seen as optional and only for the spiritually elite.” This should be the norm.
“The Pew Research Center, the Barna Group, and other researchers have discovered there is little difference between people in evangelical churches and the general population in beliefs, attitudes, and lifestyle. In Growing True Disciples, George Barna’s book examining the quality of discipleship in the lives of Christians today, he writes, ‘While there are instances in which believers are different from nonbelievers, when we compare the two groups, the statistical differences are minimal.’”
“Salvation is a lifelong experience by which Jesus continually transforms our lives, then God’s presence become an essential element of our everyday lives, as the wellspring of our salvation, and our hunger for God’s presence grows as we respond to his love for us.”
“What keeps you from his presence? Nothing needs to. God’s presence is something you desire… You don’t need to claw for it or clutch after it. Just welcome it. Remove the distractions and the apathy from your life, enjoy your new identity and location, and then go fishing with Jesus.”
“God’s mission in our lives is accomplished in three strategic ways: In our heads, in our hearts, and in our hands.
Think about this statement.
“Many Christians simply assume that because God is everywhere at the same time, his presence is automatic and active in us whenever we read the Bible, pray, or worship.”
Is that true? Do we have to invite God’s presence?
Watch the video
June 28 Sunday School Study notes
Review Chapter 1 – Read chapter 4
Chapter 4 notes
List three words that describe your faith.
This is harder than I thought it would be. Faith is hard to describe. So my words were comforting, difficult, moving. What words would you use?
How many people would show up if we called an all-night prayer service? Would 1/3 or ½ of our congregation show up? How many would show up if we called a 1-hour prayer service? If we answer that with a small number maybe, we need to consider why. Do we have to be desperate for God’s presence before we are interested? What would bring us to that point?
Have we felt God working to direct the events of our life as Alec described in his being called to a different church?
The Presence – Session 2
Review chapters 8 and 11 in the book.
My notes from chapter 8
“Since the dawn of Enlightenment, well-meaning believers have insisted that the only reliable way of knowing God, the only way that we encounter God, is through our intellectual apprehension of him in Scripture. We must think or reason our way to God…any experience we may have of God’s presence is automatically suspect.”
But knowledge and zeal must be joined. “The Bible invites Christians to approach God with the mind and the spirit.”
Pharisees knew God intellectually, but Jesus said their hearts, were far from knowing. Jesus was trying to tell us we must come to God with both heart and mind. We cannot fully know God if one of those two parts is missing.
Think about the stories of God appearing to people in the Bible. Did the people involved have an intellectual understanding of what was happening? Saul/Paul was one of the Pharisees that moved from his only having an intellectual understanding of God to having his mind and heart involved. This happened after his encounter with God on the road to Damascus. It is impossible to understand that encounter intellectually, but it could not be denied. Paul was never the same. He stopped forcing people to follow the law and began encouraging people to look to Jesus for conversion.
As you prepare for this session, read or review chapters 2 and 3 in The Presence.
After reading and reviewing the notes for each chapter
Watch the video in Right Now Media - (link above)
After watching that Video watch the discussion video