Sermon Audio Transcript
So we are in week two of our series, Experiencing God. And this is the basic idea, is that there’s a big difference between knowing about something in your mind and experiencing the reality in life. And so what we’re over these next eight weeks … Well, the next seven weeks specifically. We’re going to look at seven realities for experiencing God. Not just something you can know about God, but how you can actually experience Him in your daily life. Hear His voice, encounter His love, live in His purpose. I want to experience God, not just know about God. Anyone else?
I want to really know Him and experience him each and every day. And so here’s what we’re going to do today. Today, we’re going to talk about this first of the seven realities from experience God.
Reality number is God is always at work all around you.
He’s always at work all around you.
Jesus said this in John 15:7, Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at work to this very day, and I too am working.”
We believe that God is at work in every detail of our lives. The problem is we miss it. The problem isn’t that God’s not working. The problem is that I am oblivious sometimes. The problem is that I’m looking. The problem is I’m not listening. God is working but I am not looking.
Now, if you are a brand new Christian, I want to tell you that even people who have followed Jesus for 20, 40 years still struggle with this. That we struggle with looking at the wrong things and missing out on what God is doing. But here’s what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be a Christian who looks back on my life and says, “I missed out on what God was doing. God was working here and here and here, and I was oblivious and busy and focused on something else.”
I want to be in the middle of God’s will for my life. Anyone else? I want to know what He’s doing and I want to partner with Him in that. And so today, we’re going to look at not just that God is working, but we’re going to look at how to experience God working in your daily life, because He is always working all around you.
So, Jesus, would you help us to have eyes to see and ears to hear you working in, through, and around us? Speak to us today through your word. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
If you want to grab your bibles, we’re going to open up to Acts 10. If you’ve got a Life Center bible, it is on page 945, or you can use your other paper bible or you can use your phone bible, whatever you want. It’s also going to be on the screens.
We are going to look today at Peter again. Last week, we looked at the call of Peter, when Jesus called Peter to be His disciple and how Peter figured out how to have a God-centered life. Well, we’re going to jump forward 15, 20 years to when Peter is a little bit older. He’s followed Jesus for a while. Jesus has now ascended to heaven, sent the Holy Spirit, and the Church has started through Peter and the other apostles.
Now, Peter was at one time living in Jerusalem, but we’re going to see that he’s living somewhere else for a little bit right now. Again, this 15, 20 years down the road. He’s living in Joppa. And what we’re going to see today in this story is this beautiful tapestry of God working in Cornelius’ and in Peter’s life and bringing them together and doing something extraordinary. What we see today is the moment when Gentiles are included into the fledgling Church of Jesus.
So, at the first, while the Church was growing, it was just Jews. It wasn’t Gentiles. It wasn’t people who were outside of the Jewish faith. And at this moment, this is when you and I are, our ancestors were included. Most of us probably aren’t of Jewish descent. If you are, that’s awesome. But if you aren’t, this is where you and your ancestors were included in the Church of Jesus. It’s an incredibly cool story, but it also shows how God works in details and in differences and God brings people together to accomplish what He wants to do. And so this is going to an example for us of God’s works and how we can experience Him working all around us.
So we open this story in Acts 10:1 with a man names Cornelius. He is a Gentile and he is going to be one of the first included into the Church of Jesus through this wonderful work of God in all different ways. So here’s what we see, Acts 10:1-8.
At Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about 3:00 in the afternoon, he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
So here we see God working by giving this man a vision. He sends an angel to him and speaks to him and then gives him this direction to send somebody, send people to go get Simon Peter and bring him back to him. God is working in Cornelius’ life. How many of you would just love if God would show up and just tell you exactly what do like he did here? Like, “Lord, just show me.”
Sometimes He does and sometimes it’s more subtle. In this instance, we see God working very clearly in Cornelius’ life. God doesn’t just work through dreams and visions. He does do that. He works in so many ways. And if you want to experience God working, here’s the first thing.
Be aware of how God works
If you want to experience him, just a basic knowledge of He works is going to enable you to see it and engage in how God works.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Heaven on earth?” “Oh, it was like heaven on earth.” So just the other day, my grandma called and she said, “Michael, I just ate at Heaven on Earth.”
And I was like, “Like it was really good? Where did you eat?”
She’s like, “No, literally, I ate at Heaven on Earth.”
I was like, “Grandma, I’m confused.”
And she’s like, “There’s a bakery in Azalea, Oregon, called Heaven on Earth. It was delightful.”
The phrase, “Heaven on earth,” is used to describe something or an experience that feels inedibly delightful, blissful, as if heaven had come to earth. Did you know heaven on earth is God’s master plan? That is what God is working towards. That’s what God desires. That’s what He’s bringing. That’s what Jesus started.
Think about this, in Matthew 6:10, the Lord’s Prayer, what do we pray?
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is heaven.
Essentially, what we’re praying is bring heaven to earth. We want your will, your power, you, your presence on earth as it is heaven. So this is God’s master plan. He sent Jesus to redeem the world because we had fallen in decent and in rebellion and we were separated from the presence of God. So, He sent Jesus, and Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave so that we could be forgiven and have new life in Him. And then, Jesus filled us with the spirit and sent us to proclaim the good news, that there is salvation in Him.
And now, we’re waiting for Jesus to return. When He returns, evil will be done away with forever and God will fully establish His kingdom, bringing a new heaven and new earth and bringing them together. He will reside on earth, heaven on earth, and we will be with him forever. That’s His master plan. There you go. Now you know the ending of the story. That’s what God is working towards. And to that end, He works in many different ways.
Let me just share a few with you. We know that God fills. God fills us with His spirit. In Acts 2, one of the very first things that God did for the Church is He filled them with the spirit, and He wants to fill you as well. God loves to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. He is still filling today. Are you asking him to fill you?
We know that God prepares. Ephesians 2:10 says, “You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for you to do.”
Every situation you walk into, God has already been working to prepare it for you. He’s prepared good works for you to do. So when you walk into a situation, He already has something planned for you. He’s also preparing you for each and every season that’s coming.
God prepares. God also grows. In Galatians 5, we’re told that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness. And?
Self-control. Those, those are not the fruit of Michael. That’s not the fruit of you. It’s the fruit of the Spirit. He is the one that is growing that in us. The same peace and patience that Jesus exhibited and had in Him is the same peace and patience that the Holy Spirit wants to grow in you.
God strengthens us. Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He wants to strengthen you. And you know what? Paul wasn’t talking about, “I can do these awesome things.” He was saying, “I can go through terrible things because Christ strengthens me.” And if you are going through terrible situations right now, if you are facing difficulty, I want you to know that God strengthens you. He can and He will when you ask Him. God strengthens us.
We know that God draws all people to himself. John 6:44, “No one can come to the Father unless the Father Himself draws them to Him.” Did you know that God wants all people to be saved? And he is working in every single person’s life to draw them to Him. God is drawing you and the people around you to Him.
God saves. Romans 10:9 says this, “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved.”
God saves you and me. We don’t do it ourselves. God sanctifies. He sets us apart. John 17:17, Jesus says, “Your word is truth, sanctify them with your truth.”
God wants to set you apart, make you holy for His purposes, and He is doing that. He is working in your life to set you apart. God forgives, He protects, He directs, He convicts, and I could go on and on and on. Do you get the point? God is working. God is so active in our lives.
You and I can know conceptually that God is working and you could write down this list, which I hope you did. I hope you wrote down how God is working. But you can know all that and still blind to him working in your life. You can still be unaware of it. And if you want to experience God working, it’s not enough to just know how he works. You got to start looking for God working in your life.
Think about Jesus. Jesus showed up and He was doing the works of the Father. The very things that the Father told Him to do are the very things that He did. He was doing God’s work, and yet the people were blind to it. Jesus said this of the people around Him. He said, “They have ears but they do not hear. They have eyes but they do not see.” They weren’t looking, they weren’t listening. They knew how God worked but they were not aware because they weren’t looking.
So if you want to experience God, point number two is this, look for God working in your life.
Look for God working in your life
You’ve got to know, be aware of how God works, but then look for God working in your life.
We’re going to continue on in this story and we’re going to see God working in Peter. To bring Peter and Cornelius together, to bring Gentiles into the Church, to expand the Church from just a Jewish sect to something that would include you and me 2,000 years later. God uses and works in Peter’s life to bring this about and Peter sees it. So, point number two, look for how God is working in your life, and we’re going to continue this story, Acts 10:9.
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.
Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
Can we pause for a moment? Have you ever been really hungry and started having visions of food? That’s not what’s happening for Peter here. This is not him being like, “Oh, this is the favorite that I would have.”
Look what he says in verse 14. He says this,
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Well, see, what Peter saw in that vision was all of these animals that were restricted in the Jewish diet. They weren’t allowed to eat these animals, these reptiles or these birds, and so Peter looks at this and says, “Those animals are unclean. I would never eat of them.”
And God says, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
By the way, this is the favorite hunter’s verse, isn’t it?
And Peter says, “No, Lord, I won’t eat anything unclean.”
And Jesus says this, he says, “Don’t anything impure that I have made clean.”
What He’s doing is preparing Peter for something that’s coming. Is Jesus just talking about animals in this vision or is it something more? What do you think?
It’s something more, and Peter’s going to learn that in a little bit. But right now, God is preparing him, He’s teaching him, and God will prepare you as well. We’re going to go on, starting in verse 17:20, and we’re going to see what happens next.
While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him. “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
So, Peter’s wondering about this vision and Cornelius’ men show up and come to his house and they call for Peter, and Peter goes downstairs and goes with them. Why? Because God told him to. God was directing Peter in this moment. God just said, “Peter, go downstairs and go with these people.” God was directing peter, and I want to tell you that God wants to direct you in your life. God wants to tell you where to go and what to do. The question is, are you listening? God can work, God can direct you, and hew as directing Peter here.
We’re going to continue with this story. So what happens next is Peter does what God asks. He goes with these people and travels with the to go to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea. And when he gets there, he meets them and starts talking to them, and this is what he says in verses 28:29.
Peter said to them, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
So, Peter learns what the vision was all about, doesn’t he? He learns that the vision wasn’t just about animals. God was telling him, “Don’t call anything impure that I have made clean.” Because the Jews, what did they call the Gentiles? They called them impure. They called them unclean. They called them dogs. And now God is saying, “No, no, no. That’s not how you’re going to relate to them anymore. That’s not what you’re going to call them anymore because I have made them clean by the blood of Jesus. They are no clean and I’m including them into this community.”
What we see happen here is that God convicts Peter. He said, “You thought one thing, and now I’m showing you the truth. You thought this and I’m showing you something different. I’m showing you something new because of what I have done in Jesus.” Through this whole process, Peter has his eyes open to what God is doing. At any moment, Peter could have had his eyes closed and bailed out, but he didn’t. He had his eyes open. God is working in your life too. Are your eyes open? Are you looking for what God is doing?
So let me ask you a few questions just to stir up your vision for what God is doing in your life. I want to ask you, where is God preparing you? Is there somewhere in your life where you could look right now and go, “You know what? Maybe God is preparing me for something. I’m not sure what it’s for. I’m not sure why he would let this happen, but maybe He is preparing me.” Maybe what’s draining you is actually the training ground that God is using for something that’s coming up.
I remember when I just graduated college. I moved into one of our ministry houses here at Life Center. We’ve got incredible college-age ministry houses all over the city and young people get together to not just live together, but express the Gospel in the community and be the hands and feet of Jesus in their neighborhood and to gather young people around them. And so I moved into one of those houses and it was so awesome, but so hard.
Why was it hard? Because of roommates. Have you ever had a roommate that’s hard? It’s difficult. Why? Because people come from all sorts of backgrounds and all sorts of ways of living, and then they come together and there’s friction, isn’t there? It’s difficult because, “Why would you do that? Why do you do that that way? I don’t understand you.” And I learned so much in that season.
And you know what I realized God was preparing me for? He was preparing me for marriage. Because in marriage, two people come together who’ve lived very different lives up to that point and they try to blend their lives together and there is friction, isn’t there? There’s things where you’re like, “What.”
But I saw, when I got married, I saw God’s hand in preparing me through that college housing, because what He did is He softened my edges. He used these other people to make me softer, more pliable, more open, more flexible so that when I got married there wasn’t as much friction because I was like, “You know what? I’m probably wrong.” And by the way husbands, that’s a great thing to say. “I’m probably wrong.” All the wives said, “Amen.”
It was difficult to live with roommates, but God was preparing me. I wonder if the most difficult part of your life is where God is preparing you right now? And you’re not sure what He’s preparing you for, but what if God is using that as a training ground for what’s coming next?
What that would do in your life if you saw that God was Preparing you. Instead of trying to get out of that, you would say, “God, what are you trying to put into me through this experience? God, instead of trying to get out of what’s difficult in my life, maybe you’re trying to deposit something into me and I want to be aware of how you are preparing me in this season.”
Where is God preparing you?
How about this, where is God directing you? If you look through your life, where is He trying to give you guidance and direction? How about work? Are you asking God for direction in work? Are you looking for God’s leading in your place of work? How about your home? Are you looking for God working in your home life? Or your hobbies? God, what are you up to in my hobbies? How about your heart? God, where are you directing me here? Is there something you want to say to me, change in me? Where do you want to lead my emotions and my attitude? God, how are you working in me? Where are you directing me?
Maybe you could ask this, God, where are you convicting me?
God, maybe there’s something in my life that is leading towards death and you want to lead me towards life. Maybe there’s something in my life that’s taking away from what you have for me and you want to give something to me and I need to turn away from this thing and turn back towards you. God, where are you convicting me?
We know that Godly grief, this conviction that God gives us doesn’t lead to discouragement or depression. It actually leads to life through repentance. When we experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit in our lives and we respond to it by repenting, turning away and then turning back to God, we experience life. A fresh breath of air in our lungs. So where is God convicting you?
God loves to work in our lives, and if you see God in your life, I want to encourage you to say something to him. If you see God doing something in you or through you, thank Him for it. God, thank you for giving me a new job. Wouldn’t that be a good thing to say back to God? God, thank you for helping me develop patience. God, thank you for walking me through this and directing me. Even, yes God, thank you for convicting me on this issue. Because God doesn’t want to just work in your life and not have a relationship with you. God wants to engage in every area that He’s working with you.
So God doesn’t want to just do things for you, He wants to do things with you, and the way that you can engage with what God is doing is when you see something, say something. It’s like the airport rule, if you see something, say something. You’ve heard that before, right? And if you see God working in your life, say something to Him. It allows you to engage not just in His work, but in the relationship with him.
It’s easy to see God working when there’s great things in your life. But how do you see God working when life is hard? How do you see God working when you’re facing incredible adversity? I have friends, lots of friends right now who are facing difficult times, who are facing adversity like you would not want to face. And how do you see God working in the middle of that?
Now, each and every one of us faces different levels of difficulty, don’t we? There’s the really hard adversity, the things that you’re like, “What in the world. Why am I facing this?” And then there’s minor annoyances, and those minor annoyances are things we experience each and every day, but they can tip us over the edge almost just as much as this sometimes. They can send us flying over for some reason or off the handle.
So just the other day, I was working with somebody and we had a problem that we could not figure out. He’d been working at it for three hours, and then I joined him for the last hour and we could not figure out this problem. We were like, “What in the world? What’s the solution?” And we were both staying late to try to figure out this problem, and finally at the end, after four hours, it was the easiest solution it could’ve been. And in that moment, it was easy for me to get frustrated.
Have you been there before? Where you’re like, “Why did I waste four hours?” But my friend, do you know what he said? He smiled and he said, “Uh, God must have had a purpose for this.” And here’s what I learned in that moment: when annoyances frustrate your plans, you can choose to get mad or trust God. Come one, we’ve all been there, haven’t we?
We’ve all been there where we’ve got this option, annoyances have frustrated our plans and we can choose to get mad or you choose to trust God and just say, “God, I know you’re working. I’m not sure how you’re working. I’m not sure why this happened. But I trust that you are working.”
I saw my friend and he was a lot happier than I was because he chose this path and I was choosing this one. And I realized, you know what? I want to be more like him. I want to choose to trust when minor annoyances frustrate my plans. But friends, we can face bigger things than minor annoyances. We can face incredible adversity in our lives. This adversity can discourage us, dishearten us. We can feel hopeless. We can feel angry at God, disillusioned in our faith. We’ve been there, haven’t we? And how do you see God working in those moments?
Adversity is an opportunity for God to prove himself faithful. When you’re facing incredibly difficult circumstances, you can look at that and go, “God, where are you?” Or you can say, “God, I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see how you’re going to work in this. I’m praying for this, and if it doesn’t happen, I still trust you.”
Think about Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:9. He says this, he says,
“A great door of effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
So he, on one hand, says, “Here’s this incredible opportunity, and yet I’m facing adversity.’ These things are not mutually exclusive for Paul, adversity is, what he sees, is in adversity there is an opportunity for God to work through him like never before. In adversity, when you face it and you trust God, He will shine through you and people will see Him. God wants to use you even in the hardest parts of your life. Adversity is an opportunity for God to work in ways that we never could.
So where is God working in your life? Are you looking for God working in your life? Are you asking Him to open your eyes? So, first, if you want to experience God working, you’ve got to be aware of how He works. Then you’ve got to look for Him working in your life. And here’s point number three, look for God working in others. God’s not just doing something in you, He’s doing in something in the person next to you.
Look for God working in others
Would you just, don’t say anything, but look at the person next to you. Just look at them, keep looking at them.
God’s working in that person. And you may be like, “Hmm, I don’t know. It sure doesn’t seem like it.” I promise you, God is working in the person next to you. He is working in each and every one of us. He is working in every person you encounter throughout your day. God is working in others. The question is are you looking for Him working in the people in the people around you?
We’re going to continue this story. What happens is Peter sees that God has brought him and Cornelius together, and so he shares the Gospel with Cornelius and all the people in his house. He tells them of all the things that he has done and how he annotated Jesus and how Jesus did miracles and healing. And then how Jesus went to the cross and died and then how God raised him from the dead and how this news is what we are saved by. And so Peter tells all of this, and then this is what happens in verse 44. Here’s what happens. It’s so good. Here’s what happens, verse 44.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. Even on those they thought who were impure, but God was saying, “No, these people are made clean.” For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
So this is the culmination of the story, the Gentiles are included in the Church. How? By God filling them with the Holy Spirit. And when Peter sees this, when Peter sees God working in the Gentiles just the way that He worked in the Jews, he said, “Who can stand in the way of them being baptized?” What he’s saying is, “Who can stand in the way of God working? Who can stand in the way of what God is doing in these people around me?” He saw God working in others in a mighty way. And friends, I want to tell you that God is still working in the people around you in mighty ways. He still fills people with the Holy Spirit. He still directs and protects and convicts. He still does all of these things we’ve been talking about in the people around you.
Are you looking for it? Are you seeing what God is doing? Because what God wants to do in you is not only make you aware of what He’s doing in you, He wants to give you the eyes to see what He’s doing in other people so you can partner with Him. God wants you to partner with Him just like Peter partnered with Cornelius to a great end.
So I want to give you two really practical ways that you can start looking for God working in other people. So, first, I’m going to invite some friends to come out with me and they’re going to help me right over here.
There are a lot of people in your life, aren’t there? We got some recluses over here, okay. Most of us have over 100 people who we regularly interact with throughout a week or a month. We know their names, they’re in our phones. We text and call. Most of us have over 100 who we are frequently engaged with.
How do you see God working among all those people? How do you see God working when not only do you have a lot of people in your life, but we’re all busy? Each one of us is going from task to task and task and we’re too busy to see God working. We’re too busy to engage in what He’s doing. How do you slow down enough to see God working in your life?
Here’s the first really practical thing I want to help you with. Go on a God hunt. Again, any hunters in the room? When you go hunting, you are looking for an animal. You are waiting. You are stalking. You’re eyes and everything about you is on a mission to find that animal. And when you are on a God hunt, that means everything about you, all of your senses are engaged in finding where God is working. Go on a God hunt this week, see where God is working in your life. Say, “God, give me the eyes to see what you’re doing.”
So here’s an idea if you want to go on a God hunt. When you walk into a room, what if instead of the first thing that goes through your mind, “What should I do? Who should I talk to?” Because isn’t that the first thing we think of when we walk into a room? Whether it’s in a work context or a home, we’re always thinking about what I’m going to do. What if instead you said, “God, what are you doing? God give me eyes to see you working.” And as you enter the room, just go, “God, direct me. Direct me to the person, direct me to what you want me to do.” You could ask a question like this, even very specifically. You say, “God, who are you drawing to you? Would you show me who you’re … Oh my.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if God would just use a heavenly spotlight? Come on Lord, help me out. Now, God’s not going to use a heavenly spotlight, but if you ask Him, He will show you. As you listen, as you are curious, as you’re engaging with the people around you, being sensitive with the Holy Spirit, He’s going to show you what He’s doing and He’s going to invite you to partner in that.
Maybe if He’s drawing someone to Him, you’re going to be a part of saying, “Oh, you know what? This is a great opportunity. I see God working in this person to draw him closer to Him. May I should do find, tell, bring. Maybe I should tell this person what God’s done in my life and bring them with me to Church and allow them to meet Jesus and experience Him in a real way.”
Or maybe you could say, “Okay, God, I want to know not just who you’re drawing to you. God, would you show me who you’re directing? Show me who you’ve given specific direction to.” And as you ask that, I believe God will show you who He’s directing and then you can partner with them and say, “What’s going on in your life? Where do you feel like God is working? What do you think you should do about it.” And then help them to follow God’s direction.
Or maybe you say, “God, who are you strengthening? Maybe there’s someone you want me to partner with you in strengthening them.” And as you look and as you listen and as you’re aware of what’s going on, you go, “God, I see this person going through a difficult circumstance and you want to strengthen them and you are going to use me to do it. God, I want to partner with you.”
If you go on a God hunt and say, “God, what are you doing? Would you show me?” I guarantee you this week, He is going open your eyes to see what he’s doing.
Can we give it up for my friends here, who did some incredible acting, wow. We’re going to need to up tithes and offerings because we had to pay a lot for those local actors.
So go on a God hunt, ask, “God, what are you doing?”
When you see God doing something in someone else, say something.
Say something to the person. I don’t know about you, but if someone says, “Hey, I see God working in you,” that’s going to be encouraging. How about you do that for someone else? Have the eyes to see, and then when you see something that God is doing in that person, say something to them and encourage them.
Just this last week when we were doing our experiencing God group, Sarah and I, we were meeting with our couples and one of the parts we were talking about how we’ve experienced God and I just said, “Hey, I’ve seen God.” I looked at Sarah and I said, “I’ve seen God growing you in your patience. There are moments in this last week that I was going to lose my cool in parenting, and you didn’t. You stepped in and you were patient and you were kind.” And I was like, “I don’t know how you did that. I want to be like you. But I see God growing you.” And afterward, she goes, “Do you really?”
Because it’s hard to see in yourself sometimes, isn’t it? It’s hard to see how God is growing your character sometimes because you’re just in the middle of the mess. And when someone else can point it out, it will encourage and strengthen and grow you all the more. So go on a God hunt. Ask God what He’s doing.
Here’s the second thing I want to encourage you to do, and this is something that I just did yesterday and it was so helpful for me. I made a list of all the places I’ve seen God working in my life this last week. So here’s what I want you to do. I want to encourage you, at the end of this week, maybe on Friday or Saturday, make an alarm for yourself, a reminder for yourself to go through and make a list and say, “God, where did I see you working this week?”
It’s, again, this sort of God hunt idea, but make a list of all of it and say, “God, I’ve seen you working here and here and in this person and in this and in this way.” And that’s going to help you open your eyes even more to not just individual cases of where God is working, but to God’s incredible masterpiece of work where He just continues to work in every area of your life.
So those are two really practical things that you can do. Here’s the last thing, it’s this. After looking for God working in others, here’s the last thing. Point number four, join God where He’s working. Join Him.
Join where God is working
And if you think about this story of Peter, peter could’ve bailed out on God’s work at multiple moments. Like when the guys showed up and said, “Hey, Peter, we want to meet with you.” He could’ve been like, “Hey guys, thanks, but I’m busy. Sorry.” And he could’ve bailed on what God is doing. Have you ever been too busy for what God is doing in your life?
Or maybe when they said, “Hey, we want you to travel with us.” He’s like, “Hey, no. You know what? I’m more of a homebody. I’m just going to stay here. No thanks.” He could’ve bailed at that moment.
Or when they invited him into the house, he could’ve said, “You know what? I don’t really talk or hang out with Gentiles, so I’m done. I’m not going to go in.” And he could’ve bailed on what God was doing. But Peter didn’t. He joined God where He was working. Even though it was different than what Peter expected, even though it was getting Peter outside of his comfort zone, Peter joined God where He was working.
Friends, God is inviting you into His work each and every day. He’s working, are you looking, are you aware of it? If you look through the Bible, the great men and women of faith did not muster the great things they did on their own. They just joined God where He was working. And so if you want to be like one of the Bible characters, if you want to be more like Jesus, it’s not by you mustering the faith to amazing things. It’s you just saying, “God, where are you working and how can I partner with you? God, what are you up to? I want to be a part of it.”
I want to say this, and this is so important, there is nothing more important than joining God in His work. I’m going to say that again. There is nothing more important than joining God in His work. And you may be battling with me in your mind right now, like, “Well, what about this?” No, there is nothing more important than joining God in His work. So if you see Him working and sense Him inviting you, join Him.
I love that God gave Peter a vision and got his attention, and he gave Cornelius a vision and got his attention. I love that Jesus appeared to Paul to get his attention on the road to Damascus. I love that when Moses was in the desert and he was shepherding his sheep, God showed up in the form of a burning bush. Why? To get his attention. I want to tell you that God is trying to get your attention. He is trying to say, “Look, I’m working. I’m here. I’m doing stuff. Join me, I am working.” God is trying to get your attention right now. Does He have it? Does he have your attention? Are you looking for where God is working?
And so friends when you came in, you got this card, If you’re online, we’ve got a version for it that we’re going to post. But this is just a morning prayer that I want to challenge you and encourage you to pray each and every day this week. The prayer is this. “Jesus, open my eyes to you working all around me today. Give me the eyes to see and the ears to hear what you are doing.” And then after you’ve prayed that, go throughout the day with open for how God is working.
Friends, if you didn’t get anything out of this message, at least you’re taking something physical away. You’re going to take this. And want to encourage you, do this each and every day where you say, “God, what are you doing and how can I join you in it? God, open my eyes to how you’re working all around me today.”
Would you pray with me? Heavenly Father, we ask that you will work mightily in us. For each and every one of us who has something that we are burdened with or discouraged by, we bring those things before you right now and ask that you would work in only ways that you can. Then, God, we ask that you would give us eyes to see and ears to hear you working all around us. Help us to join you in your work, not just knowing that you work but experiencing your work in and around us each and every day.
Lord, we love you and we thank you for being an active God, a pursuing God, a working God on our behalf and in our lives. We love you so much and we pray all of this in Jesus’ name.