Today’s Scripture:  Psalms 18:1-3

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.  Psalms 18:1-3

Introduction:

Today begins a furry of messages that will hopefully help us to catch up, but the more important thing is that we continue to get an understanding of who God is the goal here is to KN OW God so that we’re more likely to desire to SEEK God.  The more we KNOW  of Him the more I believe we’ll desire to SEEK Him. See, there are some thoughts that we need to debunk when it comes to God…because I believe most of us relate to God based upon what we know about Him, and that decides the degree that we get to KNOW God. See, we can go to church for thirty years, and know about God…but it’s a whole different perspective when we actually KNOW God.  Wow…I wasn’t going to go here, but I guess the Holy Spirit wants to…so I’m going to go the direction the Holy Spirit wants…and this point here is going to be part of the message…so without any further delay…here’s today’s message.

Today’s Message:

As I was writing the introduction…I got onto the subject of people spending their whole lives going to church knowing about God, but never really knowing God.  I heard the Holy Ghost tell me that there’s a couple of reasons for that…and this is the part that I didn’t know was going to be part of the message until I started writing.

Listen, the last thing I feel like doing is writing a message full of rebuke and correction, but we know that some times no matter how much we don’t want to preach a message like this…it’s not always about what we want…it’s about what the Holy Ghost has to say…and that’s why I’m going to follow His lead. Not only am I preaching this message to you, but I’m preaching it to myself…so before you think I’m just dumping on others…I’m also dumping on myself…because whatever I write is not only a message for the outgoing people…but it’s also meant to be internalized by me. The first reason that people can spend their entire lives attending church knowing about God, but never experiencing Him is because they don’t know that God desires to have an intimate relationship with them.

I suspect that’s because most people are more concerned about the religious ritual of going to church, and not concerned with the opportunity to have an encounter with God. Just so you know…there’s a whole message by itself when talking about people who care more about the ritual of going to church than having an encounter with God, but for this message…we’re going to follow the Holy Spirit…and when He’s had His say…we’ll move on to the next reason. There are those who are content with going to church, singing a couple of songs, getting a thirty to forty-five minute message, and then going home.  The problem with that is there’s no desire to allow the Holy Ghost to move, and therefore…there’s no presence of God available.

I attend a church that does the exact opposite.  Some times we barely get through two songs before we get settled in on one chorus, and it’s not long before we experience the presence of God.  We may stay there in the presence of God for just as long as the message…why?  Because that’s what we’re there for. We’re not in church to sing songs, hear a quick message, talk to the Jones’s for a little while, and then go home and go about our day.

Listen…I don’t go to church for the ritual of going to church…I go because I want to encounter God, and when you go to church with that kind of mentality and attitude…then you’re going to have an entirely different experience at church…it’s about what you’re seeking. If you’re seeking to be entertained by the worship team, get a pep talk from the pastor, meet with a couple of people, and then go about your business that’s what you’re going to get.  However, if you go to church desiring to have an encounter with God, have the message impact your life and challenge your thoughts and the way you live, and then go about your business trying to allow God to help you to put into practice what He challenged you with from the message…then you’re going to not only encounter God…but your relationship with Him is going to become more intimate…because that’s what you’re seeking.

Friends…I’ve done it both ways.  I’ve done the going to church just to go, and I’ve done the going to church because I’m desiring to meet with God…and I can guarantee you that there’s a MUCH different experience…and MUCH better and MORE intimate experience when you go expecting to experience God.

It goes back to if we seek God with our whole heart…the Bible says we WILL find Him, but when you go to church for the religious ritual…what you’re going to have is just that…a religious ritual, and you’re going to wonder why there are people who have such a different experience with God than you do.

In fact, some of you who are the religious ritual folks are envious and angry because you’ve been doing church your whole life, and you’ve never heard God talk to you, you’ve never experienced His presence, and you’re wondering why other Christians tell these stories about what wonderful experiences we’ve had with God…the answer is we desire to have those experiences with God…and if you’ll turn your heart to desiring that kind of relationship with God…you’ll have those experiences too.

The second reason that there are those who have been to church their whole lives, and never experience God is because they don’t go expecting to have an encounter with God. Listen, if I want to hang out with someone from church…there’s six other days of the week to do that, and after or before church.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to fellowship with the Jones’s…what is wrong is when we desire to know the Jones’s better than God…and that’s probably going to be reason number three…but for right now we’re going to talk about reason number two.

I go to church on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s, and I also spend 5 to 7 days a week writing these messages, I spend several hours a day listening to worship music and bible teaching on the radio, and I do all of this expecting to have an encounter with God.  I expect that when I get to worshipping God at church I’m going to encounter His presence, and when I go expecting to encounter Him…I do.

Friends, again, I have personally gone to church both ways.  Hoping to have an encounter with God, and expecting to have an encounter with God.  I can tell you that since I’ve learned to attend church expecting to experience God…I do every time.  Not every time is as powerful, but there’s absolutely nothing that compares to being in the presence of God…NOTHING.

Expecting God to show up is seeking His face, and when I went hoping to encounter God…I didn’t because I wasn’t seeking God’s face…I was hoping for a feeling…and there’s no obligation on God’s part to do anything when we’re not believing for Him to show up.  When you expect God to show up…He does because it’s also faith.  Faith gets God’s attention.  Faith gets God to show up, and that’s because when we expect to meet with God…what we’re saying is that when He says in His word that if we seek Him with our whole heart…we’ll find Him…that means we are trusting in Him and His Word…and that’s faith…and God ALWAYS responds to faith.

So…the first reason that people can go to church their whole lives and not experience God is because they don’t know that they can.  The second reason people can go to church and not experience God is because they don’t go expecting to meet with Him…and that brings us to our third and final reason.

The final reason people go to church their entire lives and never encounter or experience God’s presence is because they don’t want to.  Now, it may not be a conscious decision that they don’t want to, but never-the-less…it’s a decision.  I touched on this reason a minute ago by saying that many people go to church to be entertained and meet with the Jones’s, and at the end of that statement I said that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to fellowship with the Jones’s…the problem comes when meeting the Jones’s is more important than encountering God.

Listen.  When I go to church I know there are people I haven’t seen that I like to say hello to, and either give a hug or handshake to.  However, there’s never a time where I go to church because I want to see anyone other than the Lord.  I just told you that since I’ve begun going to church expecting to experience God…I do…every time.  Why is it that every time I go to church I experience God when there’s people who have sat in the same church pew for 30 years and never even gotten a Holy Ghost goose bump? The answer is simple…it’s because I want to experience God.

Like I said a moment ago.  There are 6 other days I can meet with anyone from church I want to meet with, and there’s time either before or after the service.  There’s even time during the service when our pastor will encourage us to get out of our seats, and welcome someone.  BUT! I am blessed to belong to a church that’s number one mission is to Seek God…because that helps me to keep my number one mission as seeking God. Look…none of my other relationships work if my relationship with God is dysfunctional.  I talked about this before in the very first message of this series:  Seeking God (Day 1 of 48).

My relationship with the Jones’s depends upon my relationship with God being functional because here’s the truth.  When my relationship with God is dysfunctional…I don’t care about the Jones’s because when my relationship with God is dysfunctional…that’s when I become selfish, self-absorbed, and self-serving.

When I go to church, when I listen to worship music and Bible teaching in my work van or car, and when I spend my quiet moments here at home writing and worshipping God…I do so expecting to encounter God…and I do.  Why?  Because that’s what seeking God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength looks like.  I experience God because I want to, because I expect to, and because I know that when I seek Him with my whole heart…I will find Him.

What about you?  What do you go to church for?  Are you going because you haven’t seen Susie all week and want to know how she’s doing or do you go because you can’t wait to be in the presence of God?  Do you go because the worship band is awesome or do you go because when you get into worshipping with the worship band the presence of God becomes so thick and tangible that you can’t want to experience God?  Do you go wishing the pastor would hurry up and finish his message so you don’t miss kick-off of the big game or the drop of the green flag of the race or first pitch of the Sunday afternoon ballgame?

I had no idea this was the kind of message I was going to write, and I’m sure that this wasn’t even supposed to be part of the Seeking God series, but this is what happens when you seek God…and expect that when you do…He will give you the words to speak…or in my case write. I guess the whole point of this message is to encourage you to think about where your heart is when it comes to attending church, and experiencing God.  If you’re one of those people who is jealous of someone else because they’ve experienced God, but you’ve never even gotten a goose bump…maybe you should think about why it is you attend church to begin with.

Are you going to meet with God…or are you going because that’s just what we do every Sunday? I promise…no…God promises you in His Word that if you go expecting to experience Him and His presence…you will.  He also promises that if you go without a desire to experience Him…then you won’t. I don’t know about you…but for me…going to church and not experiencing God to me is just a waste of time…and that’s why today I can’t go to church just because that’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians or even as a family.  I go today expecting and seeking the presence of God…and I never leave disappointed…because I always go expecting God to show up…and when you go that way…He does exactly what He said He would do…inhabit the praises of His people. Perhaps these words of Jesus will inspire you to change your heart and goal of attending church:

  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 (KJV)

When we’re gathered together in the name of Jesus, all in one accord, and expecting to experience God…He is there in our midst.  That’s what happened in the upper room in the Book of Acts.  They were all there, gathered with one mind, one desire, and one goal…to experience what Jesus promised them…and when that rushing mighty wind came…they then understood that for the rest of their days…that was probably the greatest moment of their lives…the encountered God…and shook up the world.

Friends…if we want and desire revival…then we too have to get to that place where we go to where ever we go to church expecting to experience God…having one mind, one accord, one desire, and one goal…because when we do that…God’s obligated to show up…and it’s in His presence where the fullness of joy resides…and it’s also where transformation takes place. King David understood that…and that’s why he was known as a man after the heart of God…and that’s how I want to be known as well.  How about you?

Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader:

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. Psalms 18:1-3

I posted this again, because I want you to do this with me.  I’m not going to follow behind you to make sure you’re doing this.  Again, all the “assignments” in this series are between you and the Lord.  He’s going to know if you’re doing these assignments…He’s the One who is going to know if you truly desire to seek Him or not.  But if you do…then I would like to encourage you to make this assignment part of your daily walk with Him. Here’s the assignment:

Make this psalm your prayer and heart’s desire. Memorize this scripture passage. Read it repeatedly until the words become deeply personal.

Conclusion:

Well.  This message went in a direction I never thought it would go, but that’s what happens when you rely upon the Holy Ghost.  Some times, He has some things to say that are completely different from what was supposed to be said, but I’m alright with the Holy Ghost taking over…because it’s much more important to me that you get what He wants you to get than me writing something that will only glorify me.  I don’t want the glory or recognition…I want Him to get it…and when He takes over a message like He did today…all I can do is be thankful that He did…and I am.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24)

Blessing & Grace to you

Bryan J. Kizer

Christlike Ministries NWA