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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, 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!



In my quiet time with the Lord I love using the S.O.A.P. journaling discipleship engine.  It is a simple, easily reproducible, method where you write down the Scripture God directs you to in your reading, you then write down your Observations about the text, then you write out your Application which is what you plan to do about it, and lastly you write down your Prayer asking God to help you.  Having a S.O.A.P. journal has helped me to approach everyday asking two questions: 1. What is God saying to me? 2. What does He want me to do about it? 

As I went through 2014 God constantly reminded me that my quiet time with Him is more about being in His presence then being able to check my Bible reading off of my to do list!  In My Utmost For His Highest Oswald Chambers says, “The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.  Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God.”  Throughout last year God stamped some truths upon my heart that will guide me and give me a solid foundation throughout 2015.

Here are 7 Things the Lord has Taught Me in 2014 that by the end of the year I would write all seven of them every day at the bottom of my prayer journal.  Here are a few verses to go with these truths a few thoughts He gave me on each one.

  1. Blessed Be the Name of the lord
  • PSA 113:2-3, “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” ESV
  • “Don’t allow what has been done to you, to become bigger than what God has done for you!!!” –Tony Evans
  • Job 1:21, “And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ESV
  • I have a choice to make: Will I look outward in fear or will I look upward in faith?
  1. Always Rejoice (I Thess 5:16)
  • Neh 8:10, “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.” HCSB
  • You have to learn to laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously!
  • Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” KJV
  • I have a choice to make: Will I focus on God’s blessings or pout about what is not going well?
  1. Be Persistent in Prayer
  • Rom 12:12, “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” HCSB
  • COL 4:2-3, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison.” HCSB
  • “The only faith that appropriates is faith that causes you to ask God for what you need!” -Jim Cymbala
  • I have a choice to make: Will I live by faith or will I live by sight?
  1. Control Your Thoughts
  • II Cor 10:4-5′ “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” HCSB
  • Pro 23:7,”As a man thinketh in His heart, so is he.” KJV
  • Every day is a mind battle and every day is a challenge to try to think God’s way!!! (Rom 12:2)
  • I have a choice to make: Will I adopt the world’s thinking or will I strive to have the mind of Christ?
  1. Abide in Christ
  • John 15:5, “The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit,” HCSB
  • PSA 27:4, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.” HCSB
  • My prayer for 2015 is to stop trying harder and start trusting Him more!
  • I have a choice to make: Will I slow down and wait on the Lord or will I press on in my weak anemic human efforts?
  1. Show and Express Honor
  • Rom 12:9-10, “Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.  Outdo one another in showing honor.”  HCSB
  • First and foremost, be honorable in all things!
  • Who is it that I should and need to show honor towards today?
  • I have a choice to make: Will I focus on myself or will I focus on honoring others?
  1. Prayer Does Make a Difference
  • Jam 5:16, “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect!” HCSB
  • Yes, prayer is mentioned twice and needs to be!
  • Make no mistake about it – Your prayers can make a difference!!!
  • I have a choice to make: Will I ask Him or not?   Remember, we have not because we ask not!

There you have it 7 Things the Lord has Taught Me in 2014 that will help me follow him in 2015.  I look forward to the lessons He will teach me in 2015!


Pray for one Another

     God has been challenging me to spend more time alone with Him.  All too often prayer is overlooked by those who prefer to be busy.  If you are a highly driven person you probably find it difficult to pause long enough to hear His voice each morning.  Being a “doer,” it is hard for me, by nature, to slow down and spend quality time with God.  I am so thankful that He has been patient with me and even when I have been too busy for Him, He has never been too busy for me.


     Let me share a great verse with you that stresses the importance of praying for one another.  Col. 4:12 “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”


     On top of His word and the Holy Spirit I also ran across a couple of quotes that really spoke to me and convicted me.  “If you have a choice to make between praying and doing, choose to pray.  You will accomplish more by your doing, because you did!” – Ralph Neighbour Jr.  “The small groups who pray daily for their members are far more likely to multiply than those who pray for them once in a while.” – Joel Comiskey


     There are at least two things I hope will come out of you reading this.  First, that you will pray for those in your circle of influence every day by name.  Second, that you will spend more and more time with the Lord – not only making your requests known to the Lord but also listening to what He requests of you!  Wayne Cordeiro says, “Prayer is listening in God’s presence.”  If you have the choice to make between doing or praying, choose prayer.  You will accomplish more.


     Here are some thoughts I have developed out of my quiet time with the Lord on this subject that I hope will be a blessing to you and others.  God has called every believer to a life of Character and Obedience, First!  These are developed through our daily walk and personal relationship with Him. The quality of our quiet time will only increase when we have dedicated a quantity of time to be alone with Him.


     Secondly, God has called us to a life of intimacy with Him.  Prayer is not only our requests but also listening in His presence.  If Jesus needed time alone with the Father, so do you.  Make sure you select a specific time and place to meet with Him and when that time becomes routine or stale change it up.  It will not always be easy but do not quit when it becomes difficult.  I fear that many times I have left His presence right before He was about to speak to my heart.


     Pray every day for your circle of influence by name.  I know I already mentioned this but it is very hard to stay mad at anyone you are praying for by name every day.  It transforms the way you see them and it increases the burden you have for them.  When they are around you they can see you have changed and have more compassion for them in the way you treat them.  It changes your heart toward them and breaks any stronghold of bitterness or unforgiveness that you may have held onto.


     The fourth thing I have come to realize is that there will be obstacles.  Drowsiness has to be the number one thing you will have to battle.   Do whatever is necessary to help you be awake and alert whether that is coffee, exercise, a shower, or praying on your knees.  Make sure you are striving to give Him your best. You will also have to battle your thoughts.  How do you handle those ugly thoughts that worm their way in during your quiet time?    A good prayer at that time is “Your thoughts Lord, not mine!” 


     Many of us think we are just too busy to take the time to really pray but you need to know that you cannot go through the express lane with God!  Slow down and resist the temptation to be “doing” instead of abiding!  Don’t rob yourself of what God is about to say to you by leaving His presence too quickly.  Quality will come when quantity is given!


     Lastly, there will be times to fast and pray because there will be times you will need to exert even more effort to show God you are willing to do whatever it takes to know His mind in certain areas.  Fasting and praying can be a great way to get unstuck and know the mind of the Lord.  DCPI (Dynamic Church Planting International) has excellent training on how to take a prayer retreat.  I would love to share that with you if you contact me.


     Hopefully, this will be an encouragement to you and a reminder that if you are surrendered to Him and available then don’t panic, wait on the Lord!  He knows where you are and He has your address.  You will not have to kick the door in because He will open it for you!