Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
We need to be ‘Present to God’ in six ways:
- How we view things
- How we do things
- How we accept things
- How we resist things
- How we honour each other
- How we honour ourselves and in so doing honour God
Being Present in How we View Things
We are present to God when we open ourselves to see every opportunity from God’s perspective instead of just from our own.
For example, when my mother was killed in a car accident it was tragic. It really was devastating for my family, but God showed me how present He could be to me and me to Him if I opened myself to see things from His perspective. Specifically he spoke Psalm 139 to me, Before one day came to pass, I knew it altogether and it was written in my book of life.
Being present to God in how we view things is not living in denial, like an ostrich with it’s head stuck in the sand. It is looking at our circumstances, acknowledging both the good and the evil, but choosing to rise above the difficulties by the grace of God. It is choosing to believe that no matter what happens God is in control and that nothing can separate us from His love.
In this world we have been promised to have tribulation. Tribulation literally means to be hard pressed, as in an olive press. We are to expect tribulation. However, Jesus went on to say be of good courage for I have overcome the world. We do not walk this alone. He is with us.
Being present to God in how we view things is to understand what Jesus was saying here. Tribulation in our lives is designed to release God’s oil of joy in our lives because He tells us in His word that he exchanges beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.
Present in How We Do Things
Being present to God in how we do things is by always doing it as unto the Lord. To me this means doing it with a heart of love and gratitude, no matter how significant or menial the task, or how many obstructions there are that seek to stand in our way.
We are present to the Lord when we invite him into our doing. His word tells us that faith without works is dead, so the challenge is to have faith in God but to also put our hand to the plough and do whatever it is that we are capable of as a sacrificial love gift to God.
This also relates to how we use the resources that we have been given, be it our physical bodies, our spiritual giftings or our possessions. Good stewardship is another way in which we are present to God. Honouring God in every transaction of our day, remembering that we will one day give account for the decisions that we make and the way that we use the talents invested in us.
Present in How We Accept Things
Being present to God in how we accept things to me means living the serenity prayer.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
With acceptance comes peace. Acceptance doesn’t have to mean agreement with whatever is happening, but rather, it may mean making the decision to let go and let God do His thing. His ways are higher than ours and who can really understand the heart and mind of God?
I see God as the master chess player. He moves us strategically to be able to fulfil the higher purpose. When we become stuck in the little things, we lose sight of that much bigger picture that God is creating. So it’s important when we are going through challenges that we seek to be present to God to allow Him to show us how to accept those things that we cannot change.
Example, Paul and Barnabas had a dispute and parted company. Many would have thought that it was a really negative situation, however, God used that situation for the Gentiles to be reached.
Not every hard situation is the enemy at work in our lives, sometimes it is our Father God working his refining fire in our lives.
Present in How We Resist Things
Being present to God in how we resist things is all about our struggle against temptation. There are so many temptations – from those things that we consider ‘minor’ sins like gossiping and gluttony to those more ‘major’ sins of adultery, stealing or murder. The problem is that sin is sin and there are no grades of sin with God. The only differentiation He makes is the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which seems to God to be the unpardonable sin.
Being present in how we resist things is about us wearing our testimony and the blood of Jesus as ever present companions in this life journey. The word tells us in Revelations that they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. Our talk about how God is in our lives reminds us of His awesome presence. In Joshua, God tells Joshua to wear the law on his forehead and chest and to remind the children of Israel to share stories about how God has been with them to remind themselves of His goodness. That was really important for their survival.
We resist when we understand and remember God and how he feels about what it is we are doing.
I am constantly challenged by the scripture You have not yet resisted in your struggle against sin to the point of shedding blood.
Present in How We Honour One Another
We are present to God in how we honour one another through the words we speak and the thoughts we have about each other.
A great challenge I was given by a friend was to not gripe, groan or moan for 24 hours. Have you ever tried that? It is incredibly difficult and you don’t realise just how much negativity there is in you until you are not allowed to express it. It was quite eye-opening to me to realise just how much I allow negative words and thoughts to be expressed daily. And most of it is subconsciously driven.
Our job is to take every thought captive and if we have a problem with our neighbour, we are to sort it out quickly. First by ourselves, then with another if the issue cannot be remedied. We are permitted to be angry, but not to sin in that anger. If we only have to think it to have done it, according to Jesus, how many of us have played out our anger or sinful behaviours?
Present in How We Honour Ourselves and In So Doing Honour God
We are present to God in how we honour ourselves when we realise that we are totally dependent upon God for everything. This relationship needs to have first place in our lives.
We aslo honour God when we are good stewards of what He has given us – our bodies, our relationships, our families, our finances, our gifts and talents.
How are we using these to bring glory to God in our lives? Are we listening to God’s voice when He is whispering take time out and rest or come and create with me? Are we giving Him everything and hearing how that everything is to be given?
Like the widow who had only a small amount of oil and the prophet told her to pour her oil out each day and she did and there was an endless supply, we need to be hearing the how so we align ourselves to God’s way of doing things. If we are doing it in our own strength, then it is guaranteed that the oil, the joy, will eventually run out. But if we do it in His strength, we have an endless supply.