How to Constantly Talk With God
September 4, 2022
Wat is your personal story?
-No “formula” for doing this
-Spiritual disciplines help, but not completely
-Spontaneous, “arrow” prayers, immediately
-Jesus told us to make disciples- help people grow spiritually
-We can only give away what we already have
-1 Thes 5:17 says “Pray constantly.” But how??
Why do we not keep talking with God?
Western Culture- Western thought says God is not involved in the everyday circumstances; he is just in our private life, in religious settings and situations only
-We actually cannot separate the sacred from the secular!
-we live in both at the same time
Pride and self-dependence
Loss of our “awe of God”
-some mature believers become too familiar with spiritual things
How to Constantly Talk With God
1. Practice talking with God all the time Psalm 105:4
-“Seek his face always”
-Brother Lawrence quote
-Francis Shaeffer quote
-Matt 6:6 Jesus says talk to God like our personal father!
-children normally depend heavily on their dads all the time
2. Practice thinking about God and His Ways Romans 8:56
-“…those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set
on the things of the Spirit”
-Bible reading and learning (preaching/teaching, personal study)
-Godly friends- we must prioritize time and energy!
-Sunday Worship, Connection Groups, Serving Together
3. Get desperate John 15:4
-“…you can do nothing without me.”
-Paul Miller quote
4. Leverage difficult circumstances Romans 12:1
-“…present your bodies as a living sacrifice”
Brother Lawrence quote on suffering pg 52
5. Confess and turn from sin Hebrews 12:1
6. Focus on Jesus Hebrews 12:2
-What would Jesus do? What DID Jesus do?
-What did Jesus do FOR us? (died for us, saved us)
-Where is Jesus taking us? (to eternity!)
7. Make it personal
-Talk with God like you talk with best friends
-Talk with God in your own daily routine
-Consider “Breath Prayers”- prayers you can say in one breath
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Lord I seek your face right now” based on Psalm 27:8
How will you talk with God this week?
-How well did you talk with God last week? 1-5
1 No meaningful relationship with God at alll
2 No meaningful conversation with God
3 Talked with God some
4 Talked with God daily
5 Talked with God many times each day
-How can we help you start talking with God more often?
Brother Lawrence “We can make our heart a chapel where we can withdraw from time to time, and commune with Him in meekness, humility, and love.”
Davis, Marshall, translator. Brother Lawrence: The Practice of the Presence of God. Independently Published by Marshall Davis, 2013, page 46.
Francis Shaeffer “I personally could not live for twenty-four hours without looking to the leading of the Lord, and this is how I live my life.”
Dennis, Lane T.., editor. Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer: Spiritual Reality in the Personal Christian Life. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1985. Page 164.
Paul Miller “A praying life isn’t simply a morning prayer time; it is about slipping into prayer at odd hours of the day, not because we are disciplined but because we are in touch with our poverty of spirit, realizing that we can’t even walk through a mall or our neighborhood without the Spirit of Jesus.”
Miller, Paul E.. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. Colorado Springs, CO: Nav Press, 2009, page 67.
Intro: Today is Sunday, September 4th, 2022, and welcome to St. Joe Community Church. Today's message is entitled "How to Constantly Talk to God" and was delivered by Pastor Greg Byman. For more information, visit www.stjoecommunitychurch.org. Click on the sermons tab and find today's broadcast. So now let's open the Bible, get a notepad in pen and prepare to hear from God's word. Here's Pastor Greg.
This morning I want to talk about something that's very near and dear to my heart; how to have a constant talk with God. How to practice the presence of God is one formal way of saying it. It is a practice that I believe it's integral to my personal health; spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, that when I am getting this better, I say, get it right. And they'll get it right in heaven when there'll be no barriers to doing this. When I do, when I'm better at this, I'm better. And when I'm not, I'm not, that's just kind of where I'm at in my life. Now there's a practical way of thinking about this; we talk about how to have a constant talk with God or how to have - and by the way, talking with God is a two-way street, and I'm not getting into this today, but God speaks to us through His word and through godly people who know His word and through our prayer life that is infused with truth from His word. Any kind of feeling or emotions or thoughts that we might have, not discounting them; they just all need to be filtered through what God has already said, because He is never going to contradict himself. He'll always say what He's always said. And it'll certainly be culturally and contemporarily interpreted and brought along and applied in our current circumstances, but His word never changes.
And so, we're not here to look for a new impression or thought, but when we're talking with God, He's talking to us, we're talking to him, it's a two way street. But it's sort of like when I'm thinking about this, I want to think more on the positive side is remembering that God is always with us, and that He is always someone to talk to and talk with and be with and have conversation with.
I remember when we were first married as a couple, my wife and I, it was important for me whenever I was making decisions to think about her presence even when she wasn't there. Can anybody get an Amen on that? If I'm deciding to buy something nice and fancy for myself, I needed to think about what would my wife think when I brought it home before I brought it home. It's just important to communicate with your spouse what's going on. You make decisions, "Oh, by the way we're going so and so." "But it's on our calendar that we're doing this and that. And so-and-so is going to be some sort..." "Oh yeah, I forgot about that." You always have to be thinking about when you... the two should become two. No, the two should become one flesh and you are a one unit of two people doing life together. And it's something that we're constantly practicing, constantly learning how to get better at.
Thinking about the presence of God in a normal, and I say normal like in the way God intended family; your parents are with you even when they're not as a child. That's why when you're doing something you ought not, what do you do? You hide, right. You're doing it undercover. And I learned later, what I didn't realize is how do you get away with things? Continue to be loud when you're doing the wrong thing. Because whenever children get really quiet, that's when parents come looking for them. Okay, something's wrong, they're a lot more quiet right now. And of course, you go in and find them doing something, trying to fix something really quick or trying to do something. And that's a teacher mode, that's a parent mode, that's just - we naturally hide away from the things, the people that are going to hold us accountable for what we don't want to be held accountable for. So, that's kind of, kind of how life is.
We already have these examples in our mind if you're married or if you work with children or all of us were a child at one point - children at one point, so we all understand this. Well, isn't this true that practicing the presence of God is something that we need to think about because God is always with us. And I just want to share my personal story real quick before we get going. I'm going to be honest. I'm going to give you principles, not a ritual or some religious practice. Although I'm not saying ritual or religious practices don't work, there are some rituals or there's some habits for spiritual disciplines that are very helpful and useful. And I'm not discounting that; I'm just saying that; it's beyond a habit. There's no formula, in other words, for doing this. And spiritual disciplines, they help, but I'm not completely telling you about a habit that's more like ritualistic in nature.
What I'm talking about is something more like of a spontaneous nature that I'm spontaneously talking to God, because I know He is there, I know He is listening, He speaks all around us, this is the heavens declare your glory. When I look up into the sky and these stars that are out there, that He flung them in the place; if you look in the Psalmist, God flung them in the place for our enjoyment. He gave us this world to enjoy. And you know, keep your eyes on the road. But there are times when you're like, "Wow, look at the sunset!"
I have a daughter that all the time is sending us pictures of the sunsets. And it's just awesome. She's just way into taking pictures of sunsets. And now I'm starting to - that's a cool sunset, you know? And you start taking pictures. Oh, co-road. No, I don't do that. But seriously, it's important for us to take in the fact that God is everywhere and he's speaking to us through even His creation. Now, He's not a tree, but He's everywhere, and He made that tree. And when I think about that, somebody made that tree. And you know, trees are - especially the big old ones, they're like, "Wow, that was here like before. Wow!" And you just start thinking about how finite life is when you look at creation.
Anyway, so God is everywhere, but this is more like the spontaneous arrow prayers. I think I mentioned to you last week when we were talking about pray without ceasing - pray constantly, 1 Thessalonian 5 says that. How do you do that? And I will say to you that there are times when somebody will give me a prayer request and if I don't pray for it right then, I might forget to pray. No, I have forgotten to pray. And that's my confession last week. It's just, I got to pray right now about it or write it down. That's why whenever you're leaving on Sunday morning, my brain is mush, usually by that time. And I say, please write that on a card and give it to me. That's why connection cards are so important, because you can tell me what's going to happen; you can tell me you're having heart surgery on Tuesday. I'm sorry for you. I probably will forget if you don't write it down. It's terrible. It's all about me right now, isn't it? No, I just forget. I just forget. My brain is - anyway, that's beside the point.
But praying for somebody, you got to pray for them right now sometimes or thinking about something, I need to pray about that. Pray right then. That's kind of been my way in which I practice this in my own life. And honestly, if I'm trying to help somebody become more like Jesus, I need to learn how to be more like Jesus and I got to get closer to Jesus. I need to have a relationship that's functional with Jesus because I can only give away what I have myself. So as a believer in this room and God called all of us to make disciples; if we don't have what we're supposed to give away, then we ought to work on having more of what we should be giving away.
And that's another motivator for me. Like, I see these minions, these children, my children; they're looking at me and how as goes, so goes. I have friends in my life, as goes the friends, so go the friends. We're influencers whether we like it or not. And what we give away is more caught than it is taught. And so, I'm trying to get better at this for my sake, for God's sake, for the sake of honoring Him with my life and also for the sake of other people in my life. But how do we do it? How do we do it? Because there's a lot of reasons we don't. There's a lot of reasons why we don't, and I'm going to point out three reasons why we just tend to not do this. First of all, our culture just doesn't really marry spirituality with hard truth like science and spirituality just don't mix. I can give you a whole hour lecture on it. You'd be bored, but I find it fascinating that conditionally Western culture, there was this shift that we adopted. And it's sort of like this whole phrase of, "well, spirituality, that's a private thing." You know, church and state; you're not allowed to let your spiritual life influence your political decisions. There's an idea that it's either or, not both and. Our culture kind of conditions is, don't talk about religion. Don't talk about that. Well, that's more personal.
Now, what I believe about who God is and how the world was created really is a foundational truth that helps me understand this world and helps me make wise choices in this world. I mean, he's the creator. Again, that's a whole nother sermon, but Western culture kind of conditions us not to pray about the normal stuff. Like, I need a parking spot downtown, pretty close, so I pray for God to give me a good close parking spot. And He gives it to me. And there's one guy that was talking to another guy about this whole thing. And he said - and he was praising God that he got a nice parking lot up close. And he said, "Do you think that God is so concerned with you that He is such this huge God that He really cares about your little parking spot downtown?" He says, "Do you mean to say that you believe God doesn't care about every little part of my life?" And then somebody else would say, "Yeah, but what about that little old lady that needed that parking spot? You took it, you nice young strapping man."
We can get into the woods when we talk about this. But the reality is that I believe you can pray about anything and everything. I think it matters. And if you don't get the parking spot, that's when you really need to pray,. God give me patience. Yeah! So praying is part of hard facts, concrete life; not just something we do somewhere else, spirituality, left in the church building, but no other building, and that's not true. And by the wa,y they said, you know, they took prayer out of school, and what's the joke? They'll always have prayer in schools so long as they have pop quizzes.
Anyway, pride and self-dependence. That's another reason why. I really like to be in charge of me, and I don't like thinking that I can't do something. Am I the only guy in the world that likes to fix things? I'm going to fix it, you know? And Bonita comes home with a problem from work and I got a plan for how to solve her life and everything. And you know, everybody's going to be just much better if I just show you how to do it. And I'm not consulting God when I say it either, usually, are we? We got on the fly, I know what to do here. Yeah, it's his pride and self-dependence, and we don't pray and talk to God enough about everything and anything. We'll get into that in a minute here. But that's one of the reasons why we don't talk to God often. Really, we don't want to hear what he has to say. Especially if we're about to do something we shouldn't do.
And then there's that loss of awe. Now, this is more for the believers in the room that have been Christian for a while. And Paul David Trip talks about this in his book, "Dangerous Calling to Pastors" where he says, you know what, there's a moment in which in life you were so enamored with and excited about God and you were with God enough and you handled the Bible enough and you've done spiritual things enough that it's sort of rubbed off. You've lost your awe. You're not as excited about God anymore. I mean, let me just ask the question. How many of you saw an awesome sports play on a replay this week? I mean, awe! That was awesome, right. You know, how many loved the awesome finish of the Ohio State football game last night? Awesome. Awesome. Okay, now that just divided the crowd. I think that's worse than politics. Isn't it?
Anyway, but all kidding aside, we get all enamored with fun things. How many are into American Idol or America's Got Talent - AGT, and you're like, "Ooh, that was so cool." And this one guy was flipping my... I know you're watching the game, but watch this, and I had to watch something. And it was fun, it was cool, but I went back to the game. And so you see these things and you're like enamored with it and you're like, "Wow, that's pretty cool. I didn't think he could do that." And that's awesome. And I remember in high school, for me, awesome became a vocabulary word that was used for any other things beyond spiritual things, and just became part of our normal vocabulary. And I remember people saying, you know, we really are not appropriately using that word, and we really should reserve that for God. And the point was, we are losing our awe of an awesome God. And I think we can get that way. And we just sort of take for granted the grace of God that's in our life, instead of thinking about it and living with it and talking with God about it.
So how do we do this? How do we get to this practicing or constantly talking with God? And let me give you some practical ideas from God's word. The base text was Psalm 105:4, but really there's going to be several. And if you want to write them down, you can get my notes online so that you can look at them. This is more of like walk through the Bible a little bit today, not just one particular passage like we've done in the last several weeks. But the number one thing I would say is, first of all, practice talking with God all the time. Practice it! Just practice talking with God all the time.
It says in 105:4, "Seek the Lord and His strength. Seek His face always." When you want to get somebody's attention, what do you say? Look at me, look at me, right here. Look! Hey, you in the back, look at me." I'm kidding. Isn't that what we do, right? I mean, if I'm watching, again, let's go back to the game. And my wife wants to tell me something, right? "Uhhuh, Uhhuh, Uhhuh. I'll wait till the commercial." Or "Oh, wait a minute. Yes, what would you like?" I mean, if you don't have my eyes, you don't have my attention. If you don't have my face, you don't have my attention. Seek God's face always. Seek His face, seek a personal walk and walk conversation with Him.
Brother Lawrence was a brother who his name was Nicholas originally. And in the - let's see, when was this? Way back in 17th century, something like that way back when, before you and I were born. And at the end, he joined a monastery. Actually this is way back 14th century, actually. That's what it's. And he began this journey of working in the kitchen. He never had a title. He never had any kind of notoriety as a leader appointed. And yet, he began to walk with God so much so that people would come to him, looking for advice on how to walk with God, how to practice the presence of God. And it said, despite his humble position, his reputation attracted many visitors from the outside who sought spiritual guidance. And it would later become, and even as survived today in English translations, the practice of the presence of God. And in his book, he talks about the idea that we need to practice his presence always. We can make our heart a chapel where we can withdraw from time to time and commune with him in meekness, humility, and love. And who are we? We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. But what he's saying is you don't have to go to a church building to talk to God.
Some people haven't. During the week, they'll come in here and they'll come down to the ultra. I've seen it done a few times where they'll come in and pray. I sometimes come down and pray. I'll often, since my office is right across from the balcony, I'll just come into the balcony and I'll just spend a few moments and get away. There's nobody else that usually is in here certain times of the day, and it's just a nice, quiet place to be. But you don't have to be in church to pray. You don't have to be in your quiet spot to pray. At home I have some spots picked out that really work well for me. When I'm on vacation, I often, if I'm going to be somewhere for a whole week, I think of where I can go, where nobody really sees me, it's not like - I don't want to make a big show about it, where I get my Bible, my journal, and I'm just alone with God. And boy, when I'm at the beach, man, I find that the balcony is one of my favorite spots to be. And then sometime out on the beach somewhere alone in the morning time. But I just find that spot, but you don't have to have a spot to talk to God. You don't have to get to that spot. While you're getting to that spot, talk to Him while you're going there. Just a thought.
And when Jesus was on this earth and He was teaching us how to pray, He used... remember the model prayer. It's just the Lord's prayer, but it's really our prayer that the Lord gave us - our father, which art in heaven. Our dad, the most intimate way to talk about your father on earth was the word that Jesus said we ought to use when we're addressing a holy God. Dad, here I am again. Dad, look at that sunset you made for me. Dad. Now, I still say father, I still, there's a reverence in my mind and heart for that, but however, in a most respectful way, but in a most intimate way, what do you say when you talk to God when you start talking to Him. Think of it as you're talking to him face-to-face, and you're in an intimate relationship with Him. As you're a follower of Jesus, you already are in that intimate relationship with Him - live in it in your walk with Him in prayer.
Number two, practice thinking about God in His ways. In Romans 8:56, it says, "Those who live according to the spirit, have their mind set on the things of the spirit." We need to practice thinking about what God has already said. I already mentioned that earlier that the word of God is God speaking to us. If you've read the Bible, actually, you heard the word proclaimed in Psalm 139 today. You've all heard from God today. I'm not telling you; you already heard from God, because he spoke it through His word, it is for us today. And so Bible reading, Bible learning, that's why we have connection groups. And by the way, please be thinking about where you're going to go this next semester to get involved. And somehow, having some intake of God's word around some other people who are doing it with you, taking the journey together, to hear from God in a fresh way this week, or this semester as you move forward in your Christian walk.
Godly people give us insight into what God is saying so that we can be thinking about the things of God, keep your mindset on the spirit of God, because when you aren't thinking about God, you're probably thinking about something other than God. And when you're in something other than God, it usually leads to not so good, or at least takes you to the cusp of it. And you turn around and say, "Oh God, that wasn't the right thing to do. Help me help me!" Which leads me to the next point. Number three is, let's get desperate about this. Let's make this like, you know, like if you don't brush your teeth, your teeth will rot out. If you don't take your medicine, your blood pressure goes up and you die. If you don't get something going with your heart stuff, you're going to drop dead. If you don't fix this diabetes, or if you don't fix this blood sugar, you you're going to be in a lot of pain and start losing appendages in your body.
Now, we hear this from doctors all the time and give or take, we decide to do what they tell us to do. I know that, but we ought to be as desperate spiritually as we are physically. This is suicide prevention month, by the way. And I pray that we will be proactive as a family of God and you as individuals, as we move forward and help people to think of finding better solutions than the permanent one that they are trying to make that have, and if that's something that you're going through right now, and you're struggling with, please reach out to somebody before you leave today because I just can't imagine what you must be bearing if that's true. And we want you to know that you're not alone in bearing that burden and we want to help you.
But just as we believe that people ought to get desperate for their mental health, they ought to get desperate for their physical health; we need to get desperate for our spiritual health because Jesus himself said, you can do nothing without me. What part of nothing do you not understand? You can do nothing without me. That means I can tie my shoes without Jesus. No, He gave you the dexterity to tie your shoes. He gave you the freedom to sit down and tie them before the bear attacked you. I don't know whatever it is. That's a bad joke. I mean, You can't do anything without Him. And the moment I start to think I can is when I'm in the danger zone. We got to get desperate about this. This talking with God is not something we just, "Well, that's good for the pastor."
I want you to know something long before I was a pastor, long before people said you ought to go into pastoral ministry, long before I went and started pursuing what I do with my life vocation. This was a big deal to me. And I'm not tooting a horn; I'm just saying I couldn't live without the presence and help of God in the multiple circumstances that I faced. In high school and college, I needed a personal relationship walk with God to get through and to navigate all of the problems, pitfalls, temptations, and to get out of the consequences of falling into temptation. I needed Jesus to walk with me. I needed to walk with Jesus. So this isn't something that, "Oh, the pastor cooked up a good idea for us to get better." No, no, no. This is one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.
We got to get desperate about this. Paul Miller in his book, "A Praying Life," he says, "A praying life isn't simply a morning prayer time. It's about slipping into prayer at odd hours of the day. Not because we're disciplined, but because we're in touch with our poverty of spirit; realizing that we can't even walk through a mall or our neighborhood without the spirit of Jesus." I admire people who have a ritualistic, and I mean that in a very most positive sense, disciplined of spending time with God at a certain hour, at a certain time at a certain place every single day.
And my goal and my life pattern has been to spend time with God every single day in devoted, dedicated moment, not just spontaneous. I've never been one that's been the very same time, very same place every single day. My life schedule hasn't worked that way, and my brain isn't wired that way. That's just how it is. But I certainly admire that. And I certainly believe what I just said a routine of regularly getting with God privately alone each day is very integral part of our life. I'm talking about something a little beyond that, and that's just the ongoing walk and talk with God, after that and before that. We got to get desperate.
What's another thing we need to do this morning is we need to leverage difficult circumstances. Now, this is one that I can honestly say I don't have as strong or as experiential ability to tell you how to do this. But it does say in Romans 12:1 that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrificed. And I didn't put that on the notes here, but in 2 Corinthians 12, it was Paul himself who said that, "Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me, but He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, my power is perfected in weakness.'" And then Paul goes on to say; "Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ power might reside in me. So I take pleasure in what, in weaknesses, insults hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties for the sake of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong."
I have prayed with, and I'm continuing to pray for people that have physical pain for God to heal them. And there's some people in my life that I wonder is God not allowing the pain to go away for a reason. I don't get it. I don't understand. I'm not talking about people that, you know, they abuse their bodies their whole life, and they were just all it. And now they've got something going on because of the consequences of a horrible habit. I'm talking about people that just going through pain, or their job experience, and they just can't get over the pain. And I don't get it, and I want God to relieve them of it. But I do know this, that when we leverage, when we use the pain in our lives as a way to boast about the power of God in our lives, it changes us and it transforms people around us.
There are people I have met whose spiritual lives are at a pinnacle, in my opinion, only God's judgment is best. And they've been some of the most suffering people I've ever met. There was a young man that was having some problems in a previous church of mine. He was a teenager and he is going through some issues and he couldn't quite come to grips with it. And I knew what he was talking about. And I'm not here to belittle his problems, but they weren't that big of a deal. They were, and from a teenager, it was a big deal. I get it. But I wasn't a teenager, so maybe that's a little cynical. I don't know.
Anyway, and I was just thinking, you know, he's just complaining, but I didn't know for sure. I said, "Okay, I'll meet with you. But how about if we meet after I have a visit, will you come with me to a visit?" Sure. So he comes with me. We showed up to a homebound family, and this man didn't know I was coming, because it's usually spur the moment. He's a little tiny duplex. And his wife said, "Oh, he'll come out in just a minute." And just a minute was 10 minutes from getting just for the bedroom, which was like by that window to the living room. And maybe that's even further than we're talking about. And he had the walker; he's just wheezing and coughing and had this oxygen tube that was pumping oxygen into his nose so that he could barely have enough from his COPD. And he just laboring so hard to get to the chair. And he finally gets to the recliner and he blops down and you know, like I'm finding myself going, "Oh," when I sit down - he went, "Ooohh" when he sat down. I mean, you're thinking; he's about ready to tell you about all his problems, aches and pains, his arthritis, COPD, his legs that are giving out.
And he turns and looks at us and goes, "Isn't God awesome?" And he launches into this testimony of how good God was and what he'd heard from them this morning. And he'd heard a preacher on a cassette tape. This is how far back it was. And he said, "Man, I'm telling you what, I'm just so fired, I wish more people love Jesus the way I love Jesus." And we had a grand time and he ever been with somebody that you go to there to be a blessing and you are more blessed back by them? That was us in this moment. And we sit there and we're listening to him and he's just pouring out good things about God. And I prayed for him and we left and got in the car and we're driving down a road. And I looked at the teenager and I said, "So what'd you want to talk about?" And he goes, "I'm fine."
Perspective! You get around somebody who's suffering that has the spirit of Christ in them. And they're leveraging that suffering to the glory of God. It changes you as much as it's changing them. I pray that we would leverage. Now, I'm not saying that we - I pray against it, but Brother Lawrence, the guy that everybody went to, right, "Practicing the Presence of God". I do not pray that you'll be delivered from pain. Come on brother. Brother! But I earnestly pray to God that he will give you strength and patience to bear the pain. Comfort yourself in Him who hold you fastened to the cross. He will free you when he thinks it is the right time. Happy are those who suffer with Him, accustom yourself to suffer in this manner, seek strength from Him to endure the pain for as long as he thinks necessary.
He had crippling pain so much so that he had to basically walk like this, and then he worked in the kitchen and he'd have barrels of whatever it is that he had the potatoes that he'd have to put on the cart. This was back in the horse and buggy day. And he would literally just labor. It would take him all day just to go to the market to get things, to take it back to the monastery. And he never complained about it. Although he said it was horrible, but he lived this practice in his life, discovering the presence of God more keenly in the midst of his pain.
We say around here, God doesn't waste a hurt. There are hurts and pains that you've experienced that I never have. And when I'm walking with somebody that's going through a similar circumstance like yourself, I usually try to connect them with you. And if you find someone going through a circumstance like mine, connect them with me. But the body of Christ together can walk together and bear one of those burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Leverage your difficult circumstances to say, "God, I need you more than ever." Couple more here before we go.
"We obviously need to be confessing and turning away from our sins. Therefore, since we have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us." There are times when we don't pray. Why? Because we haven't confessed what we know we shouldn't have done. We're distanced from God spiritually. I mean, if you're at odds with a friend or an acquaintance, you usually avoid them until you get it right. You don't want to be around them because you've sinned against them. And it's a two way street. Maybe they've sinned against you. So, you know in human relations, when there's problems between us, we don't have connection and community. And that is, we're not talking about that you've lost your relationship with God if you're a Christian; it's just that, you know, my dad is my dad. He's always will be my dad. Thank God he's still alive, and I have times with mom and dad and they're still with me, but like going back to that time when you're not doing the right thing, you're not around your parents; you don't want to be around them until you get right with them.
And it's the same with our heavenly father. Just when you mess up, fess up. Before you go to bed at night, just say, "God, did I mess up today?" He'll tell you, he'll show you - I can testify. "God, I think I had a pretty good day. What do you think, God?" No, not so good. And not to be beat up, but to get it right, to clear the air, to confess and get going. Confess and turn from sin. And then that scripture goes on to say that we need to focus on Jesus. As we confess our sin, we lay it aside, let us keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfector of our faith. Some translations - fixing your eyes on Jesus.
I'm not talking about a bracelet that says what would Jesus do. We had the WWJDs, but it's what would John do? Our elder - I'm kidding. No, we don't do. But no, it's not what would Jesus - what did Jesus do? What is Jesus doing? Where is Jesus taking us? If our home is eternity, do we have our eyes on the end or are we just focused on our circumstances? When I'm talking with God, I'm thinking not just about what this moment means for me right now; I'm praying about what God wants for me in the midst of this to be for there. So I'm not talking to God about just, "Oh, will you fix this problem?"
You know, I remember one time I lost - I had a bicycle. It was a really nice bicycle. I just pick it up and go. Now I just look at bicycles, but I used to ride them back then. And Greg is making fun of me. I've got one in my office upstairs that I haven't quite gotten out to use much. But I had this really nice bicycle. I had paid good money for it in high school. Took it to college, and I had a rinky-dinky, little lock on it. Well, the rinky-dinky little lock, and it was gone. I was so mad. Oh, somebody stole my bicycle. And I went in to give a report and they just laugh at you because, you know, in college that's just a normal theft, and it's just a big deal. No big deal to them because it happens. It was a big deal to me. That's a lot of money.
And I've lost more things than that in life. Or I've had something broke down that I thought was just fine and I had to fix it, and I had took a lot of money to fix it. And I'm thinking to myself, I've kind of gotten to the point where occasionally, after I get over the flesh part of, I can't believe this is happening. Well, I guess Lord, if that's how you want me to spend my money, I guess that's how I got to spend it because it's your money anyway. I guess if you didn't want me to have that bicycle - now, could I have been wiser in locking it up better? I have learned to do that. But the point is, in the midst of a situation, this circumstance in light of eternity, what are you talking to God about? Are you talking to God about the circumstance and oh-me-oh-my pity party, which is not a habit. Please have it in front of God. Talk to Him about it, but fix your eyes on Christ and say, "God, in the midst of what I don't like right now, how can you help me make leverage this in a good way because I know where I'm going is more important than where I am. Help me, Jesus. I need some help."
And finally, this morning, this is more personal - make it personal. I don't know how you're going to apply this exactly, but I will say this morning that you need to talk with God like He's your best friend. He ought to be your best friend. Talk with God in your own daily routine; whatever that works for you, do that. Keep your eyes open if you're driving or walking. Use social media to pray and talk to God. Use the news stories to talk to God. Use whatever is routinely already in your life as moments to get to God because He's right with you already. There's no place you can go where He is not. And there is nothing that is too small that He wants to talk to you about.
Consider breath prayers, like the one that is the famous one. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. One phrase, oh God, you are my God and I ever praise you. That's actually a song, but I sing that. I say that out loud. God, you are awesome. God, I love you. God, thank you for coming into my life. That's just a breath prayer. Thanks for promising to finish what you started. Think of promises of God and just let those be one sentence promises back to God.
Incorporate something and somehow some way so that you're not just routinely doing it here, which is important, but you're in a relationship way you're continually doing it. Just like you would if you're married, you don't routinely say, "Well, you know you and I have a 45 minute, maybe some days, 10 minutes together, and then the rest of the day I'm not talking to you." That doesn't work so well in a marriage in case you were trying that. And it doesn't work so well in our relationship with God.
So let's rate ourselves; team, come on forward. We're going to sing one last song, and I want to see where you're at with this. One to five, five being you're hitting on all cylinders but we still need to grow, and one I'm not so good at what's going on. Number one, if you're a one today, you have no meaningful relationship with God at all. You really don't have a walk with God. You may have made some sort of a decision, but you don't have any prayer life, you don't have any spontaneous desire to talk to God. If you do come to church, it's more ritualistic, and you're one, and just be honest about it. And I pray this morning, my goal and prayer is to walk with people and help them get beyond that. And so, if that's where you're at, please put on your connection card, "I want to know more about having a walk with God." Or "I want to want to, I don't want to, and I need to know how to want to." Let's talk about that. I love talking with people who are far from God to get close to God.
Number two, I'm a two this morning. That means I have no meaningful conversation with God. I claim to be a follower of Christ, but I really don't have meaningful conversations. They're more formal. They're more what I call they're King James-ish. You know, I just kind of go into this formal mode, but I don't really have a personal talk with God. And this morning, I hope that you'll take some of these principles and start applying a few of them to your life that you might get a little bit further along in that journey.
Number three, I talked to God some. You're three, I talked to God some. I can't remember how many times this week, but I did. I talked to God. Maybe you're a four. I talk with God daily. Every day I talk with God. But here's the five; I talk with God many times a day, not just in a formal moment. And that's the part I'm talking about, where you're just letting this flow of conversation be with God; not just in this prayer closet, which is important, but beyond our private time into the public arena of where we live and work and breathe, in our relationships, in our situations, in our cars, while we're on the internet, and all the areas of our life we're just talking with God constantly.
God has got another scripture, Jesus says this - and I believe it's to the believers, although I think unbelievers need to hear it too. What did Jesus say? I stand at the door and I knock, and whoever opens the door, I'll come in and I'll eat with them. Eating with people, intimacy, fellowship, relationship conversation. Jesus is knocking on the door. He's just asking to come in. He's not barging in. I'm not here to berate you if you haven't done this. I'm gently reminding you that the God of heaven, desperately desires to walk with you in a personal way. Will you trust him?
Outro: Thank you for joining us today here at St. Joe Community Church. And please consider this your formal invitation to join us personally each Sunday for morning worship services. We meet every Sunday at eight 30 and 10:30 AM. The 10:30 service is broadcasted live from the St. Joe homepage at stjoecommunitychurch.org. Even better, we'd love to have you visit in person. St. Joe is located at 2,900 North Anthony Boulevard, located just a few blocks south of the Purdue Fort Wayne University campus. Thanks again for joining us, and we hope to see you next week. Bye for now.
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