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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 3
Contentment and God's Glory

Our last lesson looked at Moses' hunger and passion for God. Sadly, the people of Israel who Moses led did not share his excitement. Let's go back to that story in Exodus 19, where God appeared to the people and met with them face to face. He told them to get ready. He brought them to the mountain to meet with God. Exodus 19:16 picks up with them standing at the edge of the mountain ready for this great encounter. Let's read Exodus 19:16-19:

On the morning of the third day, there was a powerful thunder and lightning storm, and a dense cloud came upon the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram's horn, and the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. All Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain shook with a violent earthquake. As the horn blast grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply for all to hear. (NLT)

Now would that create within you a hunger for God? God is on the mountain, they have lightning and thunder, and Moses brings the people over there. He speaks, and all of a sudden it thunders "BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM," and everybody felt it. He turns around to everybody and says, "Whoa! Wasn't that good?!" And what are they doing? He's saying, "Whooh, let's do it again! Let's do it again!" He's up there screaming at God, and God is thundering back, and he's coming back, "Wasn't that great? That was a great day!" -- They weren't quite as excited. Exodus 20:18-19 says:

When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the horn, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, "You tell us what God says, and we will listen. But don't let God speak directly to us. If he does, we will die!"

In essence they told God, "Don't speak to me directly. Just talk to Moses, and then he can tell us what You are saying." They said that because they were scared of the Presence.

Wouldn't it be true to say that a lot of the church has simply settled for a measure of the glory? A lot of the church waits for other people to experience the glory and to tell you what the glory is like. Is it true that, at least with the Western church that I'm familiar with, that we've only been accustomed to existing in a measure of the glory of God; fall short of what God would like to pour out upon His people and His church (and I'm speaking in general terms here)? Sometimes we get satisfied with a little. We get satisfied with a little bit, because we're still experiencing the benefits of the promise.

You see, when we come into a relationship with Him, we have an inheritance as sons and daughters. We have His righteousness. We have His holiness. We have His victory. These are the things that He gives us as our birthright as sons and daughters of God. We're still overcomers. We can experience many of those blessings because God is a God who keeps His word; and yet still not experience the full measure of His presence.

There is one thing you will find lacking without God's presence. You will not find the measure of power of God without His presence. The formula is: more glory, more power; less glory, less power. We need His power -- the power to walk with Him, the power to overcome sin, the power to hear His voice with clarity, the power to live the victorious Christian life, the power to walk in the miraculous, the power to stand alone for God, the power to share the Gospel with people we come in contact with. We need to experience the power of God, and we need to experience it in its fullness, not in part.

On a passion scale, on the one end would be Moses and Joshua. But on the bottom end would be the "contented Christian." I use that term "contented" to mean you just have all of God that you really want. The truth is, you are as close to God as you want to be. It means, "I'm not looking for any more; what I have is OK. I'm able to get by and go through life with what I have. So I'm content." Contentment becomes the enemy of passion.

God wants to break us out of being contented, and move us into passion. God wants it for all of us, and it's possible for every one of us. That is why it is so important for us to be honest with God. Let's not pull anything over God's eyes, because we're not doing that anyway.

What is a contented Christian? Let me just give you some characteristics of what a contented Christian could be. It could be that you're contented because you are self-focused. It could be that the presence of God is not on your "radar scope;" as you go through life you are not looking for the presence of God. You're not actively pursuing it. You don't get up in the morning and say, "Where's God? What is God doing? How is God involved in my day today?" He's just not on your "radar scope."

Sometimes people say, "Well, if I go after the presence of God, He might mess things up for my life. I've got my life the way I like it. I've got my job; I've got my free time; I've got my hobbies. I have all of this stuff. I've got my life the way I want it, and if I go after His presence, He might mess with that stuff. I like what I have. He might ask me to give some of that up, or give it to Him. So, I like what I have, and I'm not looking for any more."

Maybe your focus is upon your needs, because you're the only one on your "radar scope." Maybe you have your own set of goals and agenda of what you would like to accomplish for your life. Of course you didn't realize that your life doesn't belong to you. It belongs to Someone else. But if I get close to Him, then He's going to let me know that.

What if my goals, and what if my agenda for my life aren't in line with His? It's like going through life avoiding hearing God, tuning God out. Look at your life and look honestly. What are your pursuits, and what are your passions? Just be honest before God. What are your pursuits? Do you have any hobbies that drive you? Maybe it's a job. Maybe it's how you use your spare time. What drives you? What pushes you? When you get up in the morning, what are the things that are on your mind? It may take an hour or two before our brains work, but once it starts functioning, what is on your mind? What are your passions? Look at those things. What drives your life? What gets you through this day and the next day and the next day? What do you look forward to this week? What is your number one driving passion?

Sometimes people are "the Contented Christian" because of withdrawal. They are simply withdrawn. They're content because they don't like getting out of the cave that they've worked so hard to dig. They don't build relationships with other people. In fact, the only relationships that they have are what people build to them. In other words, if you're going to have a relationship with me, you have to work on the bridge from your end.

You say, "Why is that contentment?" Your relationship with people is an indicator of your relationship with God, because if you withdraw from people, I guarantee you are withdrawn from God. When you are with God, God changes your passion. God's presence always changes people. When you get next to Him, and your passion is for Him, He changes you to embrace His passion, and God has a passion for people.

Look at Moses. God said, "OK, I'll go with you." Was that good enough for him? "No," he said, "You've got to go with US." He said that because he had been with God, and because he had God's passion for those people. It changes you. It's a genuine evidence of being in His presence. If you pursue His presence and you find it, God will begin to pour Himself in you, including His love for people and His passion. That stuff will be in you.

Love alters your personality traits. Love overrides a person's introvertedness. You say, "Well, that's not me!" It never is you! It is always how much God is in you. God has a passion for people, and if you are connecting with God and coming into His presence and really encountering Him, then you can't help it. What is in you will flow out to other people, because that is His passion.

Look at the bridges you have built this last couple of years -- where have you built them? Or is your life like, "The only way you're going to have a relationship with me is if you build a bridge to me. That's the only way we're going to have a relationship, is that you've got to work on your bridge." You see, you're on your 'radar scope' but God is not. I hear this all the time: "Nobody at that church likes me. Nobody is extending himself to be my friend." That is because the bridges only go one way. What's the antidote? The Presence.

Look at the scale. Take some time, write down the people you've built a bridge to build a relationship with this year. Fill up the page with the names! Go ahead and write! Let's get real honest here, ok, with just you and God. Be honest because when you get next to Him, all that is passion upon His heart will become passion upon your heart. You will find that you are a giving person because God is a giving God. "God so loved, He gave." He built that bridge. He came down to our level. We didn't have to come up to His. God came down in the flesh. He came down and did what He did, down at our level so that we can relate to Him. That's what love is about. Love is building a bridge to another person.

That's what love is, and if you get next to God, you know what's going to happen to you: His love is going to rub off on you, His passion is going to become your passion, and you won't be able help it. You're going to look around and say, "Who can I love today?" because He's a part of that. That's an effect, that's a fruit of having a passion for the Lord Jesus. So, if you want your personality to get changed, let's pursue the Presence. It's never you anyway, it is always Him. You don't have it in you. But God has all the resources, and He will share them with you as you draw close to Him.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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