\Have More Fresh Testimonies

 If you attend the Gathering each Sunday, you’ve noticed that I always begin by asking for testimonies of what you’ve seen Jesus do in the last week.  Then, depending on the testimonies I do or don’t hear, then and only then do I bring a teaching that shows why we all can expect similar encounters with Jesus, or how to reach for more.

It’s amazing how much of what we do in church keeps Jesus at an arm’s length.  We preach about Him and want everyone to sit and listen, but do we take time to linger in His presence and ask Him to speak to us?

We sing worship songs, carefully sticking to the words projected on the screen.  But do we make room for people to sing from the heart to God?

We bring in special speakers who move in the gifts of the Spirit, but the congregation sits in their seats while the guest speakers get in the flow of the Holy Spirit and move with God.

What provision do we make for people to have more firsthand encounters with Jesus.

I’d like to invite you to a simple discipline that will set you up to have more personal encounters with Jesus.  This ia the essence of the abundant life He promises us.  If eternal life is knowing Him and knowing the Father, the abundant life is surely a lifestyle of getting to know Him better and better.  It isn’t just knowing about Him; it’s knowing Him.

The discipline is described in my 31-day devotional, “Learn To Hear From God”. http://www.squidoo.com/learn-to-hear-from-God-day-30

I do the discipline myself, because I’m hungry to know God better.  So here it is:

1)                     Soak in God’s presence 2-3 times a week.  This is a time of listening prayer.  It can happen when we soak together at the Gathering, or it can happen at home.  Wishing to hear fresh instruction from God, I often use the three principles found at http://www.squidoo.com/learn-to-hear-from-god-day-3.  These are three ways to position yourself before God so you’ll be ready to hear Him when He decides to speak:  (1) quiet your heart, (2) focus on Jesus, and (3) watch for a spontaneous flow of words.  The point of this exercise is to position ourselves to hear from God firsthand.

Edify, exhort, or comfort five people each week.  If we do this right, it becomes a fulfillment of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats.  But it also positions us to need to get in the flow of the Holy Spirit so we can serve and bless others,  This is another way to experience Jesus firsthand, and to get to know Him better.

I do this discipline myself, and I’m inviting you to join me.  Maybe you attend the Gathering, and maybe you live far away and can’t visit us every Sunday.  But even if you belong to another church, you can join us in this simple discipline on your own time.

As you soak, ask God to show you who your five people are, and where to find them.  He may lead you to show more appreciation to your immediate family, or to people you see at school or at work every day.  He may direct you to take a friend to lunch after church.  But the goal in it all – firsthand encounters with Jesus that will cause you to know Him better.

Or, if you’re hungry for it, He’ll lead you to strangers and show you how to connect with them.  I’ve been having the time of my life – too much to try to tell here.

Stan Smith  ::  © 2012, GospelSmith  ::  http://www.GospelSm

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