Summary: God’s great gift of His personal presence has been offered to us.
Following Jesus, part 8
Wildwind Community Church
We’ve been talking about following Jesus for the past eight weeks or so, examining what a Christ-following life looks like, digging in to the kingdom of heaven – the reality Jesus came to tell us about; because that’s the world He asked us to follow Him into. As we follow Jesus, we will increasingly live in that world. I want to stay on the topic of Jesus today – it’s a great topic, and we’ll be obviously talking about it at least through Christmas! But this morning I want to call your attention to something I said in a sermon a few weeks ago, when I came back after I was out sick that week. I said something like, “Folks, we are in big trouble when we are unable to appreciate the only thing we have been given that we can never lose.”
We are in big trouble when we are unable to appreciate the only thing we have been given that we can never lose. I want to remind of you that today, because it’s the presence of God through Christ that I want to talk to you about. I believe two things are true of you today no matter who you are: 1) there’s nothing you have that you did not receive from God; and 2) there’s nothing you have that you will not one day likely lose, except the presence of God Himself. Is that a scary thing to say? That’s freaky isn’t it? There’s nothing you have that you did not receive from God.
1 Corinthians 4:7 (MSG)
7 For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing?
And there’s nothing you have that you will not one day likely lose, except the presence of God Himself.
Luke 21:33 (NASB)
33 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
One day you will lose your health. You very well may lose your hearing, your eyesight, even your mind. You will lose more and more loved ones the longer you journey on this earth. You will lose promotions at work, arguments at home, and occasionally peace in your heart. Everything in the world is subject to decay – to falling apart – to coming unglued.
Romans 8:21 (NLT)
21 All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
So two things are true of you today no matter who you are: 1) there’s nothing you have that you did not receive from God; and 2) there’s nothing you have that you will not one day likely lose, except the presence of God Himself. That’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? It is hard to imagine, but I believe that one day, for those who are following Jesus, the presence of God will be enough.
A few times I have told the story of when a pastor came to call on my grandmother who was dying of cancer in the hospital. The whole family was there, living there for – well, for as many days as it would take for “the moment” to come. Many of you have been there – you know what mean. And in comes pastor Brian one evening, and he leans over gramma’s bed and takes her hand and says, “God bless you, Laura.” She could barely get a breath, but in one powerful burst she said, “He does.”
I have never forgotten that moment. At that point gramma had already lost almost everything. She had lost one of her nine children. Her husband. The home she had lived in for decades. And she would lose her battle with cancer within days – but she had God – and the presence of God was enough. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a person for whom the presence of God is enough.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a researcher who distinguished herself with her pioneering work on death and dying. She once said that people are like stained glass windows. When the sun is out they are shiny and beautiful, but when the sun goes down they are dark unless light comes from the inside. If you are a stained-glass window, what will you look like when the sun goes down? When the hard times come along in your life, will the presence of God be enough?
Today’s message is called: Christmas Presence
If the presence of God is the only thing we have that we can never lose, then isn’t that what we need to spend our time becoming aware of, and grateful for? If we want the stained-glass windows of our lives to be beautiful regardless of whether the sun is up or down – whether conditions are good or bad – will it not require us to cultivate awareness of, and gratitude for, the presence of God that never changes, no matter what goes on around us?