Practising The Way Of Jesus: Be With Jesus
Rush, rush, rush, achieve, achieve, achieve. That is how we are programmed by our world today in the society that reminds us that we will miss out if we don’t keep up. Check your phone every five minutes, check your email every hour or the fear of missing out will overcome us. A day off becomes just another opportunity to get a head start on the week ahead, and connection with the God who made us, drifts closer towards the bottom of the increasing to-do list. But what if that is not how we were made to be? What if the drive to achieve and experience is actually detrimental not only to our physical health but also our spiritual well-being? In our desire to experience the Practices of Jesus this weekend we look at what it means to simply be with Jesus.
These notes are my speaking notes and are provided as an accompaniment to the recording. Please accept that they are not intended to be a published grammatically correct essay. I do hope and pray however they help you move towards Jesus.
Now onto the content…
Here we are in week two of our mini series on what we are calling Practising the Way of Jesus. For those who were not here last week I asked the question of you, “is Jesus just a hobby or is he everything?” I asked that because in my experience Jesus as a hobby brings frustration and a mediocre life. However Jesus as our everything brings risk, and fulfillment in what Jesus called a life and life to the full.
This series of Practising the Way of Jesus is a brief introduction of what it means to seek that life to the full as seek to be with Jesus, become like Jesus and do what Jesus did. This week we look at the first part of that as we delve just a little further into what it means to be with Jesus. But before we look at that I thought I would play you one of my favourite worship songs.
Catastrophic failure of playing “Blessed be your name” song is demonstrated.
Do you know I have had this guitar for over ten years and yet still I can not play it. Whereas my son Jack picked up a guitar one month and two months later was playing in the worship band within church. Why is that?
Was it desire? I don’t think so, I had the desire to be like others and lead sung worship.
Was it natural talent? Perhaps some of that could be in there, but if I am honest I don’t think Jack is any more or less naturally talented than I am.
No I think it was practice. You see Jack just practiced. For months on end we could not walk around our house without hearing the guitar and Jack singing somewhere in the house. I really wanted to worship God with the guitar and lead people into worship, but despite that desire I did not put the practice in.
How about you? Have you ever wanted to do something, but let the practice slide? I imagine that all of us have at some time wanted to do something, but not put the practice in to achieve that.
I share that daft little demonstration because I am standing here offering life to the full. I am standing here saying you are loved by God, and you can turn to him and have eternal life. You can have that forgiveness and you can know you are loved, and you can come here week in and week out, and you can still be frustrated. But if you want that life to the full Jesus spoke of, if you want God’s Kingdom coming in your life now then it is going to take you putting in some practice. God won’t love you anymore than he already does, you won’t be saved anymore than you already are, but Practising the way of Jesus will be worth it, just like it was worth it for Jack and his guitar.
Next week we will look at Becoming Like Jesus and then Doing what Jesus Did, But this week it is Being with Jesus.
You see Jesus said.
4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15.5-6)
He is saying spend time with him through God’s Holy Spirit and you will have all that you need. You will bear much fruit. That is Jesus’ code for saying you will be all that you were made it be, you will have a life of fulfillment and peace.
What Did Jesus Do
The world says you must earn all you can earn, have a big house and a flash car. You must look good on Facebook and Instagram to be a worthwhile human. Jesus says you simply have to abide in him, you are already a worthwhile human. Another translation of the BIble called The Passion puts that same idea like this
…As you live in union with [Jesus] as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from [Jesus] you are powerless. (John 15:5 TPT)
Have you ever got the end of yourself? Have you ever woken and thought,
“I know everyone thinks I have this together, but if one more things happens I am not sure I can go on”
Eventually we just run out of ourselves and everyones elses expectations upon us, don’t we? Well Jesus says arrange who you are, arrange your lifestyle on the pattern of Jesus. And you will find peace in the everyday of life.
In The Everyday
One of the master ninja warriors of Practicing The Way of Jesus, of being with Jesus, was a chap called Brother Lawrence. You may have heard me mention him before. He was a lowly monk who worked in the kitchens washing dishes, he was a flawed human like you and I and made many mistakes like you and I. However after a while people began to notice a peace about him, a fulfillment in him. Not in church, but simply whilst he was at work in the kitchen, amongst everyone shouting and the clanging of pans, he was living a life to the full and exhibiting peace in the everyday life.
Later he wrote a pamphlet called, The Practice of the Presence of God, and in that he says:
“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen . . . I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”
Can you imagine including God in all that we do? Can you imagine the peace that would bring to our community if we were all seekers of God in our everyday? That we knew God was with us on the bus, at work, as we speak to our spouse, our children. As we sit with a friend who is dying his Holy Spirit alongside us, fully known. As we celebrate a marriage or new birth Jesus in the middle of the celebration. God right there with us. Can you imagine the impact that would have on society? Can you imagine the impact that would have on you?
Well that is exactly where he is and I believe there are some practices of Jesus that will help us recognise that. If we do what Jesus did, if we think the way Jesus thinks.
We can’t get into detail here today because this is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight, just as learning the guitar doesn’t happen overnight. But for life to the full here are some suggested practices of being with Jesus from some of the great teachers on this subject.
Brother Lawrence, Dallas Willard, John Mark Comer and many others have slightly different lists but they tend to boil down to something like these seven. I am not expecting you to remember these but just get a feel for how Jesus would seek to be with you.
1. Silence & Solitude
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIVUK)
Jesus often went away to be with just him and the father. Whether we are introvert or extrovert there is no way of getting to know someone faster than simply spending time in their presence in silence, and we shall look more at that in the future.
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, (Matthew 6:9 NIVUK)
Even though God knows what we need he wants us to communicate with him in prayer, and we shall look more at that in the future.
We have spoken about fasting before. Jesus says in Matthew 6 “When you fast”. There is something about denying ourselves that brings us in connection with God’s Spirit, and we shall look more at that in the future.
4. Bible Reading
If you follow the life of Jesus in the gospels you will find he is constantly quoting and referencing scripture. It is one way of us knowing his will in our life, and we shall look more at that in the future.
‘Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; (Exodus 34:21 NIVUK)
A day of rest. Not a day away from your weekly work to do the house chores but actually a day of rest. A day that gives you energy and allows you to be in God’s presence. I am not good at some of these and especially this one but I am practicing getting better. It is even in the commandments, and we shall look more at that in the future.
Even Jesus didn’t do things alone on this earth and part of being in his presence is for us to do it together. Community is a key part of being with Jesus, and we shall look more at that in the future.
7. Simple Living
Then there is living simply and this is another challenge for me. The world says buy, buy, buy and we have seen the consequences of that to ourselves and our planet. Jesus even with all his followers lived simply. I believe there is much for us to discover in the practice and we shall look more at that in the future.
There you go seven practices of being with Jesus. Not exhaustive and I don’t expect you to go home and become Jesus or even Brother lawrence overnight. However they are practices which we will delve deeper into as we seek to have this life to the full now as well as in the future.
We can keep chasing what the adverts tell us will make us happy or we could go to the source God himself. Or as Proverbs 3 says
My son [my daughter], do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
So you may not remember them all but I will put the information on our website to help you delve deeper and we will delve into each area more in the future, but how about just a little start for you? Just one practice and this will help you whether you have chosen to follow Jesus or not and it will take just ten minutes practice a day.
Silence & Solitude
Let me encourage you to just take ten minutes of your day. You can do it when you want, but I find the morning a good time before the day gets on top of you. Grab your favourite beverage and just go and sit and be quiet with God. Turn the phone off. You don’t need to read, you don’t need pray just sit. Your mind will wander that’s OK, when you notice just gently bring it back to God. And over time you will find with practice it wanders less. But you will also find the peace of God which passes all understanding begins to settle upon you as you connect spirit to his Holy Spirit.
Not sure it will work? Well what have you got to lose? You’re not finding that kind of peace at the moment are You? So you have nothing to lose your whole life to gain.
March 29, 2020
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