I Contain God

The Power of His Presence

I Contain God

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

 

Welcome! Last week, I asked what your view was of God? I asked you to reflect on how you see Him. 

 

This week I invite you to think about how you view yourself. How do you see YOU? 

Are you a self-contained unit, meaning you have all you need simply on your own? Do you see yourself as an independent being, in control of your destiny and making all your own decisions? 

 

This is what our culture teaches us in many ways right, to be self-sufficient, to be independent, to not lean on anyone for if we do, we are seen as weak. “Learn to do for yourself.” “You just have to figure it out.” “Stand on your own two feet.” Haven’t you heard phrases like these? Haven’t you possibly said these to others?

The intention is good, trying to teach people to take responsibility and be mindful of their choices and how they affect others, as well as their long-term consequences; teaching someone how to provide for a family. Or maybe this mindset came because you were someone who didn’t have anyone you could rely on. You were left on your own to figure things out and so you have, as best as you can. 

 

But are we truly made to operate independently? 

 

Let’s pray: Holy Spirit flow through us today, grant our minds divine understanding as to how we are created and designed to live. Enlighten the eyes of our heart that we might see Your Word in truth and purposes revealed today for our lives. Have Your way today and each day. You are the river of Living Water flowing in us. We welcome You. We call You forth to teach us and draw us into the presence of the Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

Do we have infinite strength? No. 

One way to be reminded of that very quickly is to try to open a jar that has never been opened or has been lovingly sealed again by your spouse with what I call “a death grip”. Have you ever gripped on to a jar and twisted with all your might, I mean put your whole body into it and exerting all your strength to flow through to your hand, you feel like your head might explode, your body is shaking and you know your face is beet red from the sheer energy rushing through you and still nothing. All it does is leave you completely exhausted. That’s a humbling experience. I have learned to pray and ask God for His strength in even simple moments like that when I’m alone and need something to be opened and you know what, when I quit striving to the point of passing out and just ask for His strength, “the death grip” releases and the lid opens. 

 

How many times do you try to just force something to work in your strength only to be defeated, angry, exhausted, and humbled feeling like that thing is mocking you? 

 

Do we hold infinite wisdom? No.

Can we predict every possible outcome and truly know which is best for us or others we care for? Do we always act from a place of selflessness or do we often act from a place of selfishness-meaning what we want to do or feel is best in a situation? Think about this: how does living independently affect our marriages? When we independently make decisions without involving our spouse? How does modeling independence teach our children how to cooperate with others or with God? We say we want our kids/grandkids to learn to follow Christ but are we modeling it? Do we cooperate with Christ in our daily lives or do we model “taking care of business on our own”? 

What do we show our families? 

 

You know this desire to be independent is innate in humanity. Think about any toddler you have had the joy in helping raise. What does every toddler do as they begin to get more mobile and talkative? They tell you “I do it!” “Me do it!” Right? Now everything becomes a battle when you try to dress them, comb their hair, brush their teeth, put on shoes…all of it. They want to do it. And that’s good-we want them to learn how to do these things-this is important. But at some point, this grows far beyond getting dressed and taking care of our hygiene independently into all our decision-making and our very identity becomes rooted in this idol of independence. We idolize being independent and we talk it up as a great strength in our society. “Look at all I have done in my life. Look at what I have built. Look at what I have overcome. Look how I have helped others.”  “I”,  “I”,  “I”. 

Now think about our acts of “I do” from God’s perspective. Remember how exhausting it can be at times just to get a toddler dressed and out the door because they want to do. How exasperated do we make God because we insist on doing and don’t let Him guide and help us? How much more difficult do we make things because “I do”.  We are His children He cares for. Shouldn’t we heed what He teaches and models? 

The problem with this thinking is we develop a self-consciousness over a God-consciousness, meaning we center our lives around “Me” and what I want vs. centering our lives around God and what He desires for me. 

 

You have likely heard me say in other messages and devotionals that we are vessels for God to flow through. What if I told you, you are not a self-contained unit any more than I am. You never have been and you never will be. What if I told you on your own, you are a hollow structure, a clay jar that is empty until it is filled by something. 

 

Even before you accepted Christ into your life for those of you who have, you and I were filled with the spirit of this world. Something or someone is always filling us. Too many people live unaware and under the delusion that they are independent and self-contained, but we’ll look to God’s Word today to see what is truth. 

 

As Christians, let us know we were not designed to be filled by something; we were designed to be filled by Someone, the Living God Himself.  The God of the Universe designed us to be filled by Him. 

 

We contain God. His presence is within us, not operating apart from us. He operates within and through us. 

We’re going to look at several scriptures that speak to this truth to give us clarity as to who God is in our lives and who we are by His design. Let us have open ears to hear and a softened heart to receive His Word in truth. Let us live in obedience to who He says we are. Let us rejoice that the God of the Universe knows our name and makes our heart His home! How amazing is that? 

 

1 John 4: 9-16 NIV

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 

  • I am a Vessel 

 A vessel is designed to hold something. Think of a vase. It can be beautiful on its own, but its beauty is fully realized when it’s holding some flowers or something like that right? As with any other container-the inside is hollow on purpose, so there is room to fill it with something else. This is how God created us.  In fact, as we shared last week, God Himself holds everything together. We are only breathing because He gives us breath. He has all authority, all might. He is all and in all. This is what we talked about last week. Even atheists are held together by God. 

 

But as we talked about a moment ago, too often we can live unaware of God’s presence in us. We want to do it all by ourselves, and so we try and we try and we try…and we become filled with pride like the king we spoke of last week who thought all his success was through his own power and vast wisdom. Or we end up exhausted, burned out, jaded, resentful, even hopeless because we refuse to ask for help from others and most importantly our God. Listen to His Word today. You are a vessel, a container. You are not a complete unit in and of yourself. You are designed by God to be filled by His presence. This was His doing in His infinite wisdom, for His good pleasure, because He desires a relationship with us and to reveal Himself to the world through His children. 

 

 2 Corinthians 4: 6-7 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

 

Isaiah 64:8   Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

We are clay being formed in our Father’s hands. He designed us. He is the artist and the potter. 

Jesus speaks to us being vessels as well when He was rebuking the Pharisees’ self-righteous attitude who held higher value in how they looked externally to people around them. Did they appear very religious externally-oh yes. They were pristine in every way. But where does God look? To our outward appearances and actions? Does God truly care how religious we act? Hear me. Actions without the right heart motive mean nothing to God. In fact, He’ll spit them out rather than receive them. 

Matthew 23:25-26 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

He’s calling them out, but it’s a warning to all of us as well, what does our inside look like? Have we been more focused on our external selves or are we taking time to properly clean and maintain our internal selves? Can we even do that? Who cleanses us and purifies our hearts?  Jesus does. 

Now, look why God designed us this way, as vessels.

John 7: 38-39 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.    

The Holy Spirit flows in the heart of every believer like a river of living water. Do you sense Him? Are you aware of His presence? We tune our focus from outward influences, from our own desires and we look and listen to the flow of the Spirit. We don’t tune to our mind, we tune to the Spirit in our heart. Faith is heart-based. It starts in our hearts. What comes out of our mouths, had its origin in our hearts.                                                                            

  • I am a Temple         

Why did King David so greatly desire to build a temple for God? Ultimately, his son Solomon built it, but the desire was birthed in David’s heart. Why?    

To have a holy place dedicated to the Lord and for the Lord to dwell; a place of worship; a place of reverence; a place to meet with God and hear from God.  Then only the high priest could go into the holy of holies once a year to hear revelation from God. That’s it. Remember when Christ died, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. Do you know why? Because that physical temple was no longer the only dwelling place of God. 

Do you remember Jesus saying to the Samaritan woman at the well, a day would be coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is Spirit and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth.                                                                                        (John 4:21-24.)                                                                           

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.              

Individually we are temples for God to dwell in. Collectively, we are the Body of Christ building His Church. Look at how He is building us together as a holy temple for His delight and His glory.                                                                                         

Ephesians 2: 21-22 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.                                                                                           

1 Peter 2:5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are a temple for our Living God to dwell in. 

  • I am a Branch   

Think about a branch. Can it survive as a self-contained unit? No, do some pruning and clip branches off. What happens to them within a day? They wither and die. They are no longer good for anything except to be burned in a fire. What is a branch connected to? A trunk for a tree, a vine for something like grapes. 

The branch that remains connected receives a continuous and effortless flow of nourishment from the vine right? 

 

So it is with you and me. We are a branch and we are connected to a life source. The flow of life we have in God is so effortless that all too often we become unaware and we think it’s just me sustaining me

 

But let’s look to the truth revealed through Jesus as to who He is and who we are. 

 

    John 15: 1-2

   I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardenerHe cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.                                                                               

John 15:4 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.

                                                                     

John 15:5-6 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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.     

                                                                                                              

 John 15:8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 

You see, God designed us to be vessels, temples, and branches to be connected to Him in every way as our life source and provider, to His glory! He wants us to bear much fruit in this world and to do that we must be connected to His Spirit flowing in us. We cannot operate independently. 

 

Maybe you have had times in your life you felt you were lord of your life; you determined your own fate; you ran your life. Maybe you feel that yet today in some ways. But that is simply not true. Remember our flesh is rebellious to God. We are either slaves to sin and filled by the spirit of this world, or we are slaves to righteousness and filled by the Living God who created us, through His Holy Spirit. Who do you think truly has our best interests at heart? 

 

Last week part of our key scripture in Colossians 1 said this, 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

 

We established Christ is supreme in all things. He is the head of the Church. Who is the church? We are. He’s not the head of a building. He’s head of the Body. What part of your body tells the rest of your body what to do? Your head right? Your mind sends signals and directs everything in your body to move and function. So it is with Christ. He gives us our commands and directs us in how we are to live and move and have our being, in Him. 

 

So our bodies do not operate independently from our heads. Our arm can’t move without our brain sending a signal to tell it to move. We’re also not asking Jesus to help us be stronger (on our own) when we are weak. We ask Jesus as the head of our lives, to send His strength into our situation.  Do you hear the difference? We tune to His flow and ask for His strength to flow out of us. 

 

We don’t ask for Jesus to help us become wiser; we tune to His wisdom within us. When we don’t understand or our feathers are ruffled by something, we ask Jesus to give us His perspective in the situation so we know how to properly perceive it. We then watch for a flow of pictures or thoughts, or maybe even a change in our feelings that begin to well up in us. This is the river of Living Water (the Holy Spirit) flowing within us. This is us living out of Him. This is how a container serves its purpose-to be filled. This is us in cooperation with God and His purposes. 

 

ConclusionWe are joined to Another. We are not self-contained units. Let us acknowledge we are designed as a container to house our living God. Let us remain in Him knowing as a branch this is the only way to receive a continual source of life-giving sap from the vine.  Let us rejoice for Christ lives in and through us! 

 

Let’s pray: Father God we thank You for Your great love and grace upon our lives. Who are that You should be mindful of us and yet You for Your own good pleasure choose to make our heart your dwelling place. You choose to be near to each of us and be in relationship with us. You give us access to all Your power that is flowing within us through Your Holy Spirit, so that we have everything we need to live a godly life and have life and peace in Christ. Thank You Father! Let us be aware of Your presence in us. Let us acknowledge You O God for You are worthy. Let us not resist You and try to do on our own, but let us to the flow of Your living water in us. Let us follow where You guide us. Let us praise You in every season knowing You are at work for our good. We love You Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

 

Offering: Let us give with great joy. Let us give with great generosity to building God’s kingdom. Let us give in obedience for this is what God calls us to do. 

Proverbs 11: 24-25 24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

 

Final Blessing: 2 Corinthians 13: 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

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