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PRESENCE > PERFORMANCE

God's Presence

 

 

    My good friend, Rob Hager, planted Jacob’s Well in Plano, IL several years ago based on a core value, “because there is a better way.” Their vision statement found on their website, welcometothewell.com states: “To constantly learn of, live out and lead others to God’s ‘better way’ as we live together in biblical community of His truth, with His love and through His grace for His glory.”  In 2015 may all of us pursue a “better way.”

     Rob goes on to explain their vision statement: “God’s ‘better way’ is a life lived on His truth, with His love through His grace for His glory in a biblical community.  We are convinced that absolute truth exists and it is God and His reality as revealed in His inspired Word.  Only as we truly know and embrace His truth in each area of our lives can we be set free to live the best possible life.  We believe this truth must be presented to others as we ‘show and tell’ them in the context of love.”

     “Without love, our presentation of His truth is nothing more than disturbing noise that distracts or repels them from His good news.  We believe the pursuit of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is, like salvation itself, impossible apart from the empowerment of His grace through His Spirit.  Likewise, we believe that truth, even in love, without an element of grace is incomplete.”

     “God did not just declare the truth of the world’s evil, and in spite of that, choose to love the world, He did something to redeem it.  And so we believe that as we submit, surrender and sync our lives…deny ourselves, abide in Him, walk in Him, crucify ourselves He will empower us to follow Him, bear much fruit in Him and Jesus Himself will in a sense live through us.”  Jacob’s Well was founded, organized, and exists today because God does have a “better way.”

     The book of Ecclesiastes speaks of a “better way” and Hebrews speaks of a “better covenant.”  This better covenant is made possible because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As we read Hebrews 8-9 we see it compares the old covenant with the new.  You could sum up the old covenant in three words and they would be, “you do it.”  The new covenant can also be summed up in three words, “Jesus did it.”  His “better way” has made the old covenant obsolete. 

     The believers were not convinced that the new covenant was better/superior so the writer of Hebrews was assuring them not to feel bad about losing the practices and rituals of the old covenant but to realize that Jesus is better.  We are told that He is better than the angels, Moses, the temple, inferior animal sacrifices, and the priestly order.  The old covenant focused on a building while the new covenant focuses on the heart.  It is a better covenant because now every follower can have a close personal relationship with the Lord.  Presence is greater than performance!

     One of my goals for 2015 is to focus on His presence in my life more than on my performance.  This new covenant is about an intimate relationship with Christ where we walk with Him, abide with Him, and fellowship with Him.  The Holy Spirit now works inside of every believer.  Psalms 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple.”

     Because the new covenant is a better way, our challenge is to focus more on His presence in our lives than on planning or performing.  The question then must be asked:  How do we do that?

·        Have a daily quiet time with the Lord.

·        Remember, it is about relationship NOT just checking off your daily Bible reading.

·        Be persistent in your prayer life, knowing that God does hear and answer us.

·        Realize every day will be a challenge to think God’s way (Romans 12:2).

·        Ask God to change you!!!

·        Live by faith because it’s not by trying harder but by trusting Him.

·        The only faith that appropriates is the faith that causes you to ask God for what you need.

     We must make sure that we pursue His presence in our lives, in our families, and in our churches.  His presence is manifested through our invitation for Him to be in control of our lives. My prayer in 2015 is that we will stop trying harder and start trusting Him more.  Planning is good, programs can meet needs, and working hard is admirable but unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain.

     Healthy churches and maturing Christians realize that presence is greater than performance!