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Series: Intimacy With God; Other Speakers
Sun am 2nd February 2014 – Justus Swart
Eph. 3:10-11; Heb. 2:8; Jer. 29:11-14; (John. 3:16); Hab. 2:2-3;
1 Sam. 1:1-20; 1 Sam. 3:1, 19-21; 1 John 1:12-13
There are a lot of transitions happening but the greatest thing about transition is the feeling of support from the family. The transition will go nowhere without us being connected to one another. Seasons have changed within the church and there is no doubt in my mind that we have only cracked the surface of what God wants to do in this amazing community. He wants to blow our minds and I am committed to that journey. The famous German reformer, Martin Luther said, “The Church is always to be reformed”. He was one who God inspired to change the direction of the Church. This profound statement urges us as the Church to strive towards relevance and to continuously adapt to our cultural surroundings. We must be in touch with what is happening around us. We must be the Church which is relevant. The proceeding Word of God must come from a place of being connected with what is going on around us. There has to be an outward focus in our faith. Looking at the definition of the word ‘reformed’, it means ‘to be improved by the removal of outdated, ineffective or unjust qualities’. Simply put this is saying that the Church always has to assess its methods of communicating the gospel. The world needs something more. We know that God who is the Head of the Church has an incredibly powerful plan for His church worldwide (Eph. 3:10-11). Even the early church with their dynamic leaders suffered intense persecution after which it went into the dark ages. The Church was almost silenced; there was a heaviness and darkness, and then came the reformation. The Church then had to adapt to where God wanted it to be.
We know that God has this plan for the church but why is it almost hard for us to grab it? It seems to be almost out of reach. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him (Heb. 2:8). Typically we experience this frustration within our walk with God. We are still waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives. It feels like chasing a mirage. The following verse inspires us in these times. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.(Jer. 29:11). No matter what, we can confidently say that God’s desire for His people is to have hope and to have a future. We do not have to settle for our present moment. He wants to prosper us in all things because His love for us is literally immeasurable (John 3:16). We are His children.
Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false (Hab. 2:2-3). This is often how we can understand the prophecies and the promises that God gave us. Everything that God does has its timing; not our timing but God’s timing. We cannot rush God nor rush the plans He has for our lives. He is sovereign. There is a peacefulness that we have to embrace in waiting on God. He is in control, He is sovereign but it is still our responsibility to attain the revelation and reform ourselves accordingly. It is our responsibility to write the revelation down in order to pursue it, to run for it and to give our everything for it.
Our relationship with God is not about instant gratification. When we were saved we arrived in God’s presence with our own agenda and hidden motives. God has to deal with that because God wants us to live a worthy life. It requires patience from our side. God does not work according to time as we understand it. This is well illustrated in the story of Samuel. Hanna was praying before God with a cry that only the Holy Spirit could understand. As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”… Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him (1 Sam. 1:9-20). The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions (1 Sam. 3:1). The word was rare. Where is God in our lives? The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. (1 Sam.3:19-20). Samuel was dedicated not to the end point of his calling, which was to be a prophet, but he had a real love for the being in the presence of God; he had a real love for being in His Word. God was with Samuel as he grew up. Knowing God intimately throughout all his life was Samuel’s goal. That is what he wanted. He spent time with God and he spent time in the Word of God. All the time the desire of our heart should be God, to simply know Him, to be with Him, to love Him and to love His presence. We can become passive in our pursuit of His presence and value the destination high above knowing God.
God yearns to grow up with us, to be with us, to reveal Himself to us through His Word. I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning (1 John. 2:12-13). That is a very deep and powerful statement, ‘you have known Him who is from the beginning’. You have taken time to know the Creator of the universe not just through worship but in your quiet times. Our quiet time is often sacrificed in our busy lives. We become frustrated because we have left something crucial out; we have almost tried to carry on without God. Our greatest challenge is not to arrive at some final destination in God; our greatest challenge is make God our journey. It is only when I make God the focal point of my heart that I am actually ready to take on the destination. God used Samuel in huge ways but the keys were in his early life when he spent time with God, where he knew God. The progression of Samuel’s life is that God first speaks to him from this external voice; he hears it but does not know what he is hearing. Later God speaks to Samuel in his heart and a little later God asks Samuel to speak to the nation. Samuel had to learn the voice of God, he had to know the voice of God so intimately and so personally so that he could recognise it every instant of the way. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity, I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile” (Jer. 29:11-14) The pursuit is ours. Pursue God, pursue His presence and you will find Him. He is waiting not at the final destination but in our quiet times, throughout the day. He is waiting for you to pursue Him, to long for His presence. We are required to search for Him and only when we do that can we become the Church spoken of in Eph. 3:10. He can only fulfill the intent for the Church when we know Him. God longs for intimacy with us. He is not impressed by successes.
This is not something we can skip over; it is not a step we can bypass on this journey. It is something it has to begin with; a love for being in His presence. Pursue God with everything that you have and He will be found by you!