Summary: Part 7. We must be willing to make major adjustments in our life to follow God, obeying him 100% if we want to be faithful and experience God.
We have been in a series titled “Knowing and Experiencing God” because, truth be told, many times in our Christian life we are just going through the motions. Perhaps we go to church on Sunday, maybe we do our daily devotions (reading the Bible & praying), generally we try to be a good person, do the right thing. But if I were to ask if our Christian life is characterized by personal experiences with God, in other words tangible evidence of God’s work and presence in our life, what would we say? Are we experiencing God on a personal level? It’s like the talking with someone from Haiti about snow, they may believe in snow, they may have seen it in a picture or on a television, but never have actually experienced this kind of abundance of snow. They can understand it with their head, but they really don’t know what it is like to actually experience it. I think a lot of us face a similar dilemma, we believe in God but we’re not regularly experiencing him.
During the series I’ve been focusing on three possible obstacles that might be interfering with our ability to experience God working in our life: 1) We might have a relationship problem with God, we may not know God. Like Saul in the passage this morning he thought he knew God and was doing his will by persecuting Christians because he followed the traditions of his ancestors. But Paul didn’t really know God personally until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. We were created for a loving friendship with God. This isn’t knowing about God, it is real and it is personal relationship with our heavenly Father. Would you say Jesus is like a best friend, or more like a distant cousin twice removed? We won’t experience God with a distant relationship like this.
2) We could have a hearing problem. Perhaps we don’t know how to listen to God’s voice, or God communicating his truth to us, or we aren’t spending the time we need to listen and be attentive to God’s work in our life or around us. If we are in relationship with God he is trying to tell us things he is trying to reveal the truth about himself and his ways, what he wants us to do.
God primarily “speaks” to us through our reading his Word, the Bible, prayer, circumstances (like coincidences and open and closed doors), and other Christian believers. God doesn’t communicate with us just to give us warm fuzzies. The purpose of sharing these truths is so that we will grow in our relationship with him (get to know God better), and follow his plan. In fact, when God reveals something to us, that is typically his invitation for us to join him in his work to get on board with God.
Lastly, which we’ve been looking at most recently is 3) we could have an obedience problem. When God speaks to our heart and shares with us what he wants us to do it is going to be a challenge and we are going to face a crisis. We have to decide, will I follow God or will I continue to do what I want to do? Choosing to follow God will require a step of faith because whatever God is directing me to do will generally be something so big I cannot do it on my own strength. It is something large enough that it requires God’s help. Obedience requires us to walk out in faith, trusting God even though we cannot imagine how God could make it work. Without the action, actually doing it there isn’t . As the Bible says, “Faith without action is dead (James 2:17.”
We Need to Obey God 100% to Experience His Powerful Work
When we do step out in faith, we need to make sure we are obeying God 100%. Our temptation is to only do what we think we can do on our own. God asks us to do what seems impossible to test our faith so we will experience his power working through our life. If we are only obedient to what we think we can do, in other words if we do the part we think we can do, we will not experience God’s hand at work.
Two weeks ago we looked at the story of Gideon and how God told Gideon to gather an army to defeat an invading army of 135,000. Gideon gathered 35,000 men, but God felt that was too many so he whittled Gideon’s army down to only 300 men, against over 135,000. Why? So they would experience God as their Deliverer and not think they did it themselves. What would have happened if Gideon was only obedient enough to raise an army of 35,000 and then go into battle because he didn’t have faith that God would allow only 300 to win the battle? They probably would have lost the battle, but even if they won, they would not have personally experienced God working in their situation. They would have thought they did it themselves.