TRANSCRIPT | Sun, October 18, 2020 | Three Ways To Experience More of God

 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Today, I get to share from the Book of James 4. I do want to share with you as well, we have been in the middle of a series on Wednesday nights, 6:30pm. You can join us on YouTube, or on Facebook. We’re going through the Book of 1 Corinthians chapter by chapter. I've really enjoyed it. And you can go to ericgilbert.org. You can get discussion guides. You can get message notes. You can get message transcripts. The whole thing is there for just to enhance your experience with the Word and help you to really be able to study it out and even keep some notes over the course of time. So, keep that in mind for Wednesday night. But today I'm going to drop an anchor, as I've already mentioned, in James 4, we're going to look at one verse, verse 8, James 4, verse number 8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Can I get an Amen somewhere? Amen. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. What a promise. See, it's not just a principle. It's a promise. It's God saying, if you will do this, then I will do that. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. I want you to say it out loud with me, ready, begin, draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want to share a message this morning, three ways that you can experience more of God. Three ways you can experience more of God. Father, help me to teach, help me to preach. Help me to be able to deliver your Word in such a way that your Holy Spirit goes to work and provokes every single one of us to take our next step in you, whatever that might be. God bind spirits of hindrance, bind spirits of distraction. Help me to yield your sword with skillfulness. Show me where to pierce. Show me where to heal, in Jesus’ name. And this church said, Amen. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

God is everywhere. Everywhere. In fact, the psalmist said that if he were to make his bed, in hell, God would still be there. God is everywhere. And what we have to learn is that He is available anywhere. See, here's what happens. Even though God is everywhere, we so often choose to not be aware of that or to acknowledge that. And the result is, even though God is omnipresent everywhere, we often do not sense or go extended periods of time without sensing the manifest presence of God. So when we talk about that, the manifest presence of God, what we're saying is that I don't know God is everywhere, but I can feel him right here, right now, in this moment. I can sense him near. Some of you maybe had that moment during worship this morning. That even as we were singing songs and giving praise unto God, you just sensed the nearness of God. That is his manifest presence. Maybe you've had moments during small group where that you're sharing the Word, or you're discussing things, somebody starts to share a testimony. The atmosphere in the room shifts, and you just sense, wow, God is near right now. Maybe moments even in your own prayer time, or your devotional time, you've got the Bible open, you're reading through it, and something just begins to leap off the page. You're like, God is speaking to me right now through scriptures written over 2000 years ago, and you're like God is near. That's the manifest presence of God. And I want to reiterate again, I, I think we have to come to realize that God is everywhere, and He is available anywhere. He is omnipresent, and He so desires to make His presence manifest in our lives on a regular and even daily basis. And the reason that we do not experience the manifest presence of God more than what we do is because we choose to not be aware of it. We choose to not acknowledge it. We get distracted. We get hindered. We get preoccupied. And all of these thoughts lead me to a statement that was made by a prophet towards the end of the Old Testament. And it is a proclamation that is to come to pass before the end of time. I want you to see it’s Habakkuk 2:14, it says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” When you think about waters covering the sea, you think of ocean an ocean floor. It means there is no dry place. And what God is saying is that he desires to do something in the earth before the end of time to where that all of humanity would have to acknowledge that his presence is made manifest in the earth, that there would be this global awareness that God is available from Heaven in earth. That God wants that, God desires that; He aspires to it. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, from the beginning of the Book of Genesis all the way to the Book of Revelation, we see something repetitively. And it's this, God wants to be near to His people. He makes man and woman, Adam and Eve. He puts them in a garden, and the first thing that God does, He sets an appointment with them. That every single day, He's going to come down, and He's going to be near to them as He walks with them, and He talks with them. But we know Adam and Eve kind of got it messed up. They chose to get focused on something else, They got further from God than He intended from them to be. They started hanging out at the wrong tree and talking to a snake. And the next thing you know, sin has entered the world. And because God cannot engage with sin, they were distanced from Him. So then God brings to the earth what is known as a tabernacle. The majority of that is found in the Book of Exodus. And it happens while that God's people are moving through a wilderness environment, and He tells them, I want you to create a place for me where I can be near to you. He said, I want to be in a tent, and I want to be right in the center of your civilization. I want to be right in the middle of your culture; all the activities that are taking place, I want to be near to it. And we know that God led them with a cloud by day and a fire by night, and every time that, that he would lead them to move the tent, the tabernacle of his presence would go with them. He wanted to be near to his people. And then once those people finally got to the Promised Land, finally got to the land of Israel, and they began to establish a society there, God says, I want you to build me a temple. And I want to be right in the center of your people. Put me in the capital city. Put me right in the middle of the city. Put me right where everything in culture is unfolding. I want to be near to you. Over and over again, you see it. Garden, I want to be near you. Tabernacle, all about Him being near us. Temple, all about Him being near us. But never is that more on display, than when you get into the New Testament, and God chooses to reveal himself through Jesus Christ made manifest in the earth. And in that moment, now God literally is with humanity. He is near to humanity. He's walking with them and raising up disciples. And now what Scripture tells us because of what Jesus did on the earth, through the cross, the Book of Hebrews decrees His body, Jesus body, has spiritually become like a veil, that we can pass through, through the means of praise and worship, and to experience the manifest presence of God anywhere at any time, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because of what Jesus did, we are now having the ability to be accessible. God has an ability to be accessible to us if we will just choose to draw near to Him. It's like Jesus came and restored what was lost in the garden. And said, God gives you the ability to walk with Him, to draw near to Him, and Him to draw near to you. So, So look at the verse with me again, James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Would you say that out loud with me, ready, begin, draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Look at somebody and tell them draw near. Draw near. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So we talked a little bit about what it means to, to draw near to God from a spiritual context, but let's talk about it from a practical concept. Like how do we, like, just literally draw near to God? Well, actually, the way to do that is found in the rest of this verse, James 4:8, it says this “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”  Watch this, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” So now what Jesus is showing us through the pen of James, is that if we are going to draw near to God, so that we can experience Him drawing near to us if we're going to have those moments in the manifest presence of God, what we're going to have to choose to do is to be people who have renewed minds, purified hearts, and clean hands. And it is a decision that we have to make. That God, I don't want to be double-minded. I don't want the impurities of this world to get into my heart. God, I don't want to take hold of the things of this world with my hands. Instead, I want my hands to serve you and bring honor to you in the earth. And so when you start thinking about this, that, that God wants us to be people of renewed minds, and purified hearts, and clean hands. It's meant so much to me in my walk with God that this is actually something that I pray every single day unless I make a mistake. Like it's a day where maybe my schedule got crazy, and maybe I forgot to do it, or it was just I meant to do it but I didn't. Many times, even before I get out of bed, I literally pray this, God I ask you that you would give me a renewed mind, that you would give me a pure heart, and you would give me clean hands. Why? Because I know that that is essential to experiencing more of God in my life today than yesterday. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So many times, like when I'm praying with people, if I get to pray with you, one of the things you're probably going to hear me pray is Lord, give them a renewed mind, a purified heart, and clean hands. My kids, it's a rhythm in their lives. Like when I get to engage with them, I'm praying over them, God, give them a renewed mind, give them a pure heart, and give them clean hands. But how many of you know any man that says he's without sin is a liar. And sometimes the best we can do, there's just something that gets in our mind, and we become double-minded. Something gets in our heart, we start harboring offense. We harbor lust. We harbor bitterness. All this stuff gets in our heart. Our hands reach out and take hold of something in the world that they shouldn't have taken hold of it. And now what starts to happen when you know that in order to draw near to God and Him to draw near to me, my mind has to be renewed, my heart has to be pure, and my hands have to be clean, that when you fail in any of those areas, you lose confidence. And you start to think, well, there's no sense in me even pursuing God because He wouldn't want anything to do with me. Like my mind's a mess right now. I got stuff in my heart, I'm ashamed to even admit. I know God can see it, so I probably just not even gonna try to go near right now, because I know He's not gonna want to take a walk with me. Like, because you know, you reached out, got a hold of something that was against the will of God for your life. You knew, you knew better, but you did it. And now there's like this, this condemnation that you're feeling. And your confidence level and engaging God is just going down, down, down. You know why that happens? Because the Bible says the enemy is the accuser of the brethren. And he does not want you to engage with the presence of Heaven in earth. And so when the enemy knows something's in your mind, and you've been struggling with being double-minded. Like, like, one minute, man, I just love God with all my heart. And next minute, man, I'm really craving that thing in the world. Like one moment, like, I believe God can heal, and you got all kinds of faith. And the next moment you're like, well, I'm really not so sure about this. Like, one moment, like I'm all in for God, I'm asserting with my heart. And the next minute, there comes the addiction back into your head, back into your heart. It takes everything you can do to keep your hands off that next fix. And the enemy starts reminding you that you did make the mistake, that you did fail, that you did come up short, that you did fall, that your head wasn't right. Your heart wasn't pure. Your hands. And so now you're not drawing near to God because you don't have the confidence to do it.

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So I want to help you. I want you to hear what God would say to you, out of Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then, with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive grace and find mercy to help in the time of need.” This is something y'all gonna think I'm super spiritual, but I got cold chills from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, because I just felt like somebody in this room needed that right there. Like you needed that. Like you needed the confidence to remember I'm not all that. You're thinking I can't string my prayers together all pretty like, and every time I read the Word, I feel like I start getting a little bit confused. And you know, one minute I'm saying all the right things, and the next minute I'm saying all the wrong things, and you ain't got no confidence when it comes to approaching God. But the Lord would say to you with confidence, with confidence, with confidence, know that He didn't die for one, He died for all. He is available everywhere, to everyone, at any time anywhere. He's available to you, and He's just waiting for you to get enough confidence on the inside of you that you're tired of being exiled,  tired of being in captivity, that you say, God, I'm coming in. I'm coming in. I don't want to be without you anymore. I don't want to be distant from you anymore. I want to know you more today than I did yesterday. Hallelujah. Come on, look at somebody tell them I'm coming in. Boldly. Like, there's no part of this verse that says, because you messed up, you got to wait 10 days. There is no part of this verse that says, it's for everyone but you. No part of this verse says you got to be paralyzed for the next 35 years because you messed up. Instead, it says with confidence come boldly into the throne of grace, and throw those unclean hands up in the air and admit with a heart of repentance, a mind that knows if God doesn’t show up, boldly, just walking into the manifest presence of God. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Some of you the reason you don't worship because you ain't got no confidence. The reason you won't sing is because you ain't got no confidence. And the reason you won't ever pray out loud is because you don't have any confidence. And you've been a Christian for 15 years, and your family's never even heard you bless a meal. And I'm not trying to condemn you, I'm trying to convince you. Because when conviction comes over your life, you need to understand that's not God pushing you away, that's him trying to draw you near. It's him trying to convince you, I ordained you before the foundation of the world to be near me. Experience. You want to experience more of God, make the decision to draw near, and do so with confidence. And what you'll discover is that as you're drawing near to God, like look at this, okay, my mind's got to be renewed, my hearts got to be pure, my hands got to be clean. Every single one of those involve the denial of self. Because our mind wants to think about what it wants to think about.

And Scripture repetitively tells us there's all kinds of stuff trying to get loose in our heart. And then more often than not, far too often our hands get surrendered to the things of this world. See, some of y'all are thinking because you haven't committed adultery, your hands are clean. Have you looked at your Facebook feed? Okay, I'm sorry. I just threw that in, first time all day, free. Do you get it? So, if you're going to be able to accomplish approaching God, you need that confidence to draw near. And you also have to make that decision to deny yourself. And that is not the words of Eric, that is the words of Jesus. It's found in Luke 9:23, “and he said to all if anyone would come after me, draw near to me. let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Help me preach a minute look at somebody and tell them, deny yourself.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

The Bible says that never a greater man lived than John the Baptist. Jesus actually made that statement about him. And I believe that one of the reasons for that is because John the Baptist lived by life's motto, and it was this “Jesus must increase, I must decrease.” He understood if I am to draw near to Jesus, then it means I must deny my flesh and the things that I want of this world.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

 I want you to remember with me the story of the Prodigal Son. If you're new to church, that's okay, let me fill in the blanks for you. It's found in Luke 15, and it is a type and shadow of what our relationship with our Heavenly Father, God, is supposed to look like. Here's the way it unfolds. There's a son. He's in the house with his father. He's passed him in the hallway. He's sitting at the breakfast table with him. He's working in the field with him. He is near to the father. But his head starts to think about things in the world. He starts to think about things in the world he'd like to experience, and things that he feels like he's missing out on, and stuff that he really wants. And before you know it, those thoughts have dropped into his heart. And now there is something on the inside of him that literally craves the things in the world, to the point that even though his body is in the house, near the father, his heart is in the world, far from the father. And the next thing, you know, we find him going to the father and saying, put all of my inheritance in my hands. He takes that inheritance, and he goes out into the world. And the Bible says he spends everything that he has until ultimately he is literally a slave to the world. It got in his head, it dropped into his heart. And the next thing you know, his hands have got a hold of the world. But the Bible says, as he's a slave, one day, he just wakes up among the pigs, and he comes to his senses. And he realizes, I was a son in my father's house, I am a slave in the world, it would be better to go back and be near my father and just be a servant than to do what I'm settling for. And the Bible says he turns around and picks up his stuff, and he starts, what he's got left, he's lost his clothes, he's lost his ring, he's lost his shoes, he's going home half-naked, stripped by the world. But as he's coming home, he's drawing near to the father. You see repentance unfold in his life. You see, when you're drawing near to God, you have to have the confidence to approach the throne of grace. But you have to also be willing to deny yourself, and many times that means choosing to repent. Repenting for the things that got in your head, repenting for the things you let loose and let simmer in your heart, repenting for the things that you did take hold up when maybe it should not have transpired. And I was talking to a guy the other day, he's like, I just don't feel refreshed in my relationship with God right now. I don't, I don't feel renewed, and I said, wait a second, did you say you don't feel refreshed? And he said That's correct. And I said, well let me give you a scripture. The Book of Acts says that if you will come before the Lord and repentance in the name of Jesus Christ, then what will happen is you will experience times of refreshing. And if it's been a while since you've experienced refreshing, it's been a while since you experienced renewal, I challenge you to make that decision. Whatever you've been given yourself, like those thoughts that you've been leaning into, that stuff that's been simmering in your heart. Those things you've been taking hold up with your hands, like come before the Lord with a repentant heart, and I promise you, it is His word, He will give you a time of refreshing, that as you draw near to him, He's gonna draw near to you. Heaven is gonna show up and kiss the earth, and you're going to experience an overflow of His presence maybe unlike anything you've ever experienced up to that point in your life with God. So draw near. And understand that if you're going to effectively draw near you are going to have to choose to deny yourself. One more time, help me preach, look at somebody and tell them, deny yourself. Deny yourself. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

But did you notice when this prodigal son hits rock bottom; he is rock bottom. I mean, this dude has made some mistakes. Before that, he was in the house. He's near the father. But he doesn't desire more of the father; he desires the world. But now that he's in the world, and he's hit rock bottom, you know what he desires, the father. You ever had that moment? I can't get no help on a Sunday morning. Anyone ever lived that one? Sometimes you have to get what you want in order to realize it's not what you needed. And this dude is having a moment because his desires are changing. And the only way that you will ever be able to effectively deny yourself is to see your desires change. Look at somebody and tell them, desire god. Oh, you gotta say it like a old time preacher. God. Just lays in there better. Draw near to God. And the only way I can draw near to Him is if I deny the things that myself is craving, my flesh is craving. And the only way I'm ever going to really be effective at perpetually denying myself is if my desires change. And that means something's got to come over me to where I desire more of God today than I had yesterday. Then you need to understand that God wants you to desire Him because He desires you. He desires you so much that He would shed the blood of His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting eternal life. You know where that everlasting eternal life takes place in the presence of God, the presence of the Father like He desires you. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

There's another passage I want you to see. It's from another of the prophets towards the end of the Old Testament. It's Haggai 2:7, “and I will shake all the nations, and the desire of all the nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory.” God wants you to desire Him so much,that He's not beyond shaking you to wake up that desire. Do you realize what the prophet said that God so wants to be desired by the earth, and all of humanity, that He will shake all the nations of the world to wake up that desire. There's something about our God that chooses to shake everything that can be shaken, so that which cannot be shaken will be all that will remain. And in the process of that shaking that takes place in the spiritual realm, the purpose behind it, the allowance for it is so that it would cause that desire in us to waken up of like I want more of God. I don't want to feed my flesh anymore. I'm tired of giving over to these thoughts. I'm sick and fed up with this junk that's been harbored in my heart. I'm done giving my hands to the world. I desire God. This has made me nothing but a slave. I feel like a captive in a foreign land. My desire is awakened to go back then experience God. There is nothing like distress to drive you to draw near. And I want you to understand that God's so desires to be near to you, that He will accept you even in distress. Look at this, 2 Chronicles 15:4, “And when in distress, they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought Him. He was found by them.” Some of you been experiencing distress. And I want you to know that if in the midst of that distress, you do not feel near to God, then no, even if life has dealt you some hard hands and consequences as a result of choices, do not stay isolated from the presence of God. Let those desires in you be transformed and come back to the presence of the Lord. And here's what that moment is going to look like in your life. I'm going to give you one more verse, Luke 15:20. It's about the Prodigal Son. It says “He arose, and he came back to his father,” he's drawing near to his father, “and while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran, and embraced, and kissed him.”  Ran, and embraced, and kiss him. Like, that's what this is, you want to know what it's gonna look like when you draw near to God, you're gonna take one step towards Him, and He's gonna take many towards you. You might be walking towards Him, but He's gonna be running towards you. He's gonna be chasing you down to embrace you with heaven, and He will give you a kiss of His grace and His goodness.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I'm gonna invite them to come and just begin to play some music. And I want you to envision that moment when you finally decide to come home. Like how much the Father wants to be with you. How much His desire is for you. And He's just waiting for that moment in you, where you would have the same kind of desire for Him. That is you to see His desire for you and wake something up and you and your desire for Him. That you love because He first loved you and you. You know, I had, I had to travel this week, and I had a lot of meetings and a lot of meetings. But in the middle of that time of travel, I was given an opportunity to do something that's been on my bucket list. It’s probably like a top-five, top 10 thing for me. And while I'm standing in this moment, doing something I've always wanted to do, and something that I so desired, I looked around, and my kids weren't with me. And this thing that I thought would be so much fun, It just wasn't fulfilling at all. All I could think about, I want to get back to my kids and my wife. To the point that though I could have continued in the bucket list opportunity, I changed my flight and came home early. Because I just wanted to be near my family. And while I was in that moment, I was thinking, I thought this would be so much more fun. I kept thinking over and over again, I bet this is what the Heavenly Father feels like. When so many great things are happening, but He looks around and some of the kids aren't home. You see, He died for the whole world, and some of the sons and daughters just haven't showed up yet. All I had to do was change a flight to get near. He had to shed the blood of Heaven. Have you contemplated how much Heaven really wants to be near you? To the point that when Jesus was teaching people how to pray, He puts in the model prayer, pray that Heaven comes near. The whole Bible, it's about Jesus. And the whole deal with Jesus is about God being near to you, and you being near to Him. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So is there in you right now, this moment, where you just need to lay some desires out before the Lord and say God I invite you, I invite you to transform them. Places where denial of self needs to take place so that you can more adequately draw near to God. I keep meditating on this verse. It says “They were in distress, and they started looking for God, and they found Him. You got the picture, and when you find Him, He's running for you, coming to get you. Here's all I want you to say, and then we're gonna pray; here's all I want to say, and then we're gonna pray. It may be distress, that has driven you to the place of even considering once again drawing near to God. You may have been out of church for years. And this whole COVID thing, the distress of it, has driven you to once again choose to draw near to God. Maybe your marriage is going through a horrible situation, and the distress of it has caused you to just want to draw near to God because you know, He's the only one that can fix it. Maybe you're going through some crazy stuff with your kids, and like it's distressing you to the point you don't even rest well anymore. You worry every time they leave your presence. The distress of that is provoking you to just want to experience more of God than you ever have before. I want you to know that's okay. And while there are so many things we could learn, if we just stay near, all of us fall away and drift. And maybe instead of being mad about the circumstance and being upset about the things that are happening, maybe just thank God that your desires are changing. And that God is using that thing that was meant for evil to work for your good. At the very least it's been a shaking in your life, to wake up the right kind of desire. If you'll seek Him, you'll find him, and you might even just feel him bringing the kiss of heaven to your life.

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