Introduction: Today, we start a new series called Experiencing God.
- Our first message is entitled, A God-Centered Life.
- Our theme verse is John 10:10 (NLT)—[Jesus said]… My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. [TLB: My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.]
- If we pursue living a God-centered life, we will experience a rich and satisfying life, a life in all its fullness!
- APP.: Does that describe your life? It can! Will you do your part? Buy a workbook, attend service, pray, and participate in a group. (Pray with us at 8:15 AM.)
- Do you want to encounter God, hear His voice and know His will so you can follow it?
Then, let’s pursue…
A God-centered life…
#1 - Results from knowing God by experience. (Exodus 3:1-14; 33:11-14; Numbers 12:6-8; Psalm 107:3; John 17:3)
- The ancient Hebrews believed that you can’t know something without experiencing it.
- This principle is even more true about knowing people than it is about knowing other subjects.
- God is a Person, He can be known, and He must be known individually, personally, experientially, to begin a relationship that will change, transform, your life.
- [Screen] John 17:3 (NLT)—And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one You sent to earth.
- Eternal life results from a relationship with God that begins after you are born again by the Holy Spirit (regenerated, given spiritual life, saved)—and this is the experience that enables you to know God. (John 3:1-21)
- We don’t come to know God spiritually merely by gaining information about Him from Sunday messages, Bible studies or other church programs, we must first experience Him by His Spirit, then the Holy Spirit enables us to understand (discern) the truths we are learning. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
- Spiritual practices such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, worship attendance, service, and other church involvements are all appropriate, sincere, responses to our relationship with God, but they do not create or replace the relationship.
- Moses’ introduction to God illustrates knowing God by experience.
- Moses was tending sheep in the wilderness, when he encountered God in a burning bush.
- [Screen] Exodus 3:5-6 (NLT)—5 “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. [Frightened by experience.]
- God’s revelation to Moses was connected to a particular purpose God had for him.
- [Screen] Exodus 3:9-10 (NLT)— 9 “Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached Me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead My people Israel out of Egypt.” [God hears the prayers of His people.]
- But Moses doubted his ability to perform such a challenging assignment!
- [Screen] Exodus 3:11-12 (NLT)—11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”
12 God answered, “I will be with you….”
- Still Moses was hesitant, intimidated, afraid.
- [Screen] Exodus 3:13-12 (NLT)—13 But Moses protested [again], “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is His name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14 God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. …”
- God identified Himself as the self-existent, eternal One who had appeared and made promises to the patriarchs of Israel; more importantly, He was the One who would provide everything Moses would need to fulfill this assignment that would last for 40 years, the rest of Moses’ life!
- Our relationship with God, which began through an initial encounter, grows and deepens by experience as God reveals Himself, His purposes and His ways through subsequent encounters with Him.
- [Screen] Psalm 103:7 (NLT)—He revealed His character [NIV: His ways] to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel. [from Exodus 33:11-14; Numbers12:6-8]
- Whenever God reveals Himself, His nature, in a new way, it is always for a purpose!
- APP.: Do you know God by experience? Has God revealed a purpose for you?
A God-centered life…
#2 - Reflects love from and for God. (John 10:10; 14:24; I John 4:7-8,16,19; 5:3)
- 1 John 4:16,19 (NLT)—16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.
God is love [also 1 John 4:8], and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. …
19 We love each other because He loved us first. [NIV: We love because He first loved us.]
- God’s purpose is not merely to save us—or even to make us obey—but rather, it is to invite us into an on-going love relationship with Him.
- 1 John 4:16 says that God is love, which does not merely mean that He sometimes shows love to us; rather, it means that His essential nature is love—and He will never act contrary to His nature.
- God’s love always gives us what is best for us; He can do no other!
- Some of us may doubt God’s love in time of disappointment, hardship or suffering.
- But we must learn to view our circumstances against the backdrop of the cross, where God proved His deep love for us.
- We chose to trust God because we know He loves us and believe, in time, we will understand the confusing, painful, circumstances we are experiencing.
- APP.: Do you believe God loves you? (This is essential to live a life of peace and joy!)
- People who are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives don’t truly believe God loves them, so they doubt God is guiding their lives through His love for them.
- What you believe about God’s love will be reflected in how you relate to Him.
- Do you doubt, fear, mistrust, or resentment God? If so, that’s a love problem.
- When we know God’s love by experience, we will be able to trust Him, and when we trust Him, we will always obey Him.
- We will struggle to obey God if we do not trust Him; we will not trust him if we do not love Him; and we will not love Him if we do not know Him.
- Put simply: If you love God, you will obey Him; if you don’t obey Him, you don’t love Him, regardless of what you claim. (John 14:24; 1 John 5:3)
- [Screen] 1 John 5:3 (NLT)—Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.
- APP.: Have you experienced God’s love? Do you love God in return? Does it show in your life?
A God-centered life…
#3 - Remains with Christ to accomplish His purposes. (Isaiah 46:10-11; John 15:5; 12:26; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 4:13)
- [Screen] Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)—For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
- Understand that these good things are not tasks that God intended for us to do for Him, they are tasks that He wants us to do with Him—and as we do, we experience God’s nature in new and different ways.
- We ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” and that question sounds good, even spiritual, but it is self-centered, viewing the world–even God’s activity–in terms of ourselves.
- A better question is, “What is God’s will?”—and when we know it, we adjust our lives to Him and His purposes.
- Our focus needs to be outward on God and His purposes, not inward on our lives.
- God invites us to take part in what He is doing in the world; so we accommodate ourselves to His plan, what He is doing, not try to persuade Him to bless our plans.
- [Screen] John 15:5 (NLT)—“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.”
- When we remain closely connected to Christ, and follow after Him (John 12:26), we will be amazed at what God accomplishes through our lives.
- Sometimes people or churches are so busy carrying out plans they think will achieve God’s purposes that they don’t bother to find out what He actually wants. [India]
- When we do things, even things for God, in our own strength, we will burn out or grow bored—and will accomplish little for the kingdom of God.
- Our love relationship with God must come first, then out of that relationship He will accomplish His plan for the community and the world through us.
- God doesn’t give us a life plan and then abandon us to work it out; rather, as we walk
with Him daily, He gives new assignments and works through us to accomplish them.
- That is what a spiritual gift is– a supernatural empowering to accomplish God’s assignment, so we shouldn’t focus on our own talents, abilities, or interest to determine God’s will, instead we must seek God’s will and watch him equip us for the task.
- [Screen] Philippians 4:13 (NLT)—For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
- APP.: Will you start each day by asking, “What does God want me to do today?”