Summary: This sermon answers the question about how you can find the time to get into the presence of God and how doing so will actually make the rest of your time more effective.
Nov. 23, 2003 John 15
“Getting connected” (pt. 4)
NOTE: All quotes unless otherwise indicated are from Bruce Wilkinson’s book, "The secrets of the Vine"
“One Thanksgiving season a family was seated around their table, looking at the annual holiday bird. From the oldest to the youngest, they were to express their praise. When they came to the 5-year-old in the family, he began by looking at the turkey and expressing his thanks to the turkey, saying although he had not tasted it he knew it would be good. After that rather novel expression of thanksgiving, he began with a more predictable line of credits, thanking his mother for cooking the turkey and his father for buying the turkey. But then he went beyond that. ...
“He said, "I thank you for the checker at the grocery store who checked out the turkey. I thank you for the grocery store people who put it on the shelf. I thank you for the farmer who made it fat. I thank you for the man who made the feed. I thank you for those who brought the turkey to the store."
“Using his Columbo-like little mind, he traced the turkey all the way from its origin to his plate. And then at the end he solemnly said, "Did I leave anybody out?" His 2-year-older brother, embarrassed by all those proceedings, said, "[You left out] God, [dummy]." Solemnly and without being flustered at all, the 5-year-old said, "I was about to get to him."
“Well, isn’t that the question about which we ought to think at Thanksgiving time? Are we really going to get to him this Thanksgiving?
[Getting Around to God, Citation: Joel Gregory, "The Unlikely Thanker," Preaching Today, Tape No. 110.]
That is exactly what we are going to do this morning. We’re going to spend time thinking about Him and give you some tools that you can use to get into and stay in His presence. Our goal here this morning is for God to no longer be an after-thought or a final thought, but to get us to where God is in our every thought every moment of our lives.
Last week, we talked about some practical skills for you to develop for you to be able to deepen your friendship with Jesus. I gave you the acrostic ALMoST to help you remember those skills. “A” was for attraction. There has to be an attraction between you and Jesus in order for you to want a deep frienship. “L” was for listening. You listen to Jesus as you read the Bible and hear Him communicate with you about Himself and His desires for your life. “M” is for memories. Every friendship is going to have memories of experiences that you shared with one another – happy memories, painful memories, exciting memories. It is those memories that carry us through the dry times and keep us committed to one another. They are especially powerful if they are written down. “S” is for speaking. We let God speak to us, and we speak to Him through prayer. And “T” is for time. Not time in the sense of how long we’ve been friends, but time in the sense of how much time we spend together getting to know one another on a day by day basis. It takes a lot of one-on-one interaction to build a relationship that is meaningful and that lasts.
All of these components, if put together, will bring you into God’s presence and keep you there. And since the thrill of heaven will be to forever be in the presence of God, then enjoying His presence now is ALMoST like being in heaven! What is heaven on earth but enjoying the presence of God?!
I know from the very beginning that some of you are looking at this list of things that are necessary, and you’re already thinking that there is no way. You say, “Chris, you almost had me. I was getting excited and even ready to commit until you got to that last one – time. Abiding in God’s presence might be okay for heaven when I’ve got nothing else that is eating up my time, but for right now, my schedule is already so overbooked that I can’t fit one more thing in! So where do I find the time?” I don’t want you to have to wait until you get to heaven to fully experience the presence of God. I don’t want you to have to say, “You mean I could have had this on earth?” This morning, I want to give you some tools to help you make the most of your time and show you how devoting your time to God will help you make the most of the time that you devote to the other important things in your life.