If God Seems Far Away, Who Moved?

Meditation for March 24, 2020

“If God seems far away, who moved?”

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8 NKJV)

It is a good time now (as it is always) to seek after the Lord through reading the Bible and praying to Him in the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ! Drawing close, and staying close to God provides overcoming strength to keep on “keeping on!”

As a young man, my developmental years were spent in a church with my family that was a “country church”. There were a lot of good people in the church body and more good people in the community where I lived. Many of those people, in addition to my family, spoke into my life and helped me grow in my personal faith. One such person was a man by the name of John Tharp. Brother Tharp was not a typical “worshipper” in the church where I grew up, but, he was a very profound thinker. I do not know who originated the statement, “If God seems far away, who moved”, but, it was Brother John Tharp that impressed it upon me. A dear sister from my church created a poster with that message on it and the poster was placed in a shadow box. As far as I know – over 50 years later – it is still there to remind worshippers of the need to seek after God in order to stay close to Him.

Some messages are enduring for a reason. As Christian believers, our faith is the most precious treasure we have on this earth. If God seems far away from you today, you can find Him in the Scriptures. Faith comes from reading and obeying the Word of God. Faith encourages us to pray, engaging the journey of faith for the glory of the Name of our God and of his Son, Jesus Christ.

It is my hope that a voice from my past – that of Brother John Tharp – will give you newfound inspiration and courage to face your day with God. Most importantly, I want God to come near to you today. I believe He will as you read His Word given to all of us, and as you pray to Him about your needs in the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ.

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COVID-19 How Covenant Life Cog is Responding

COVID-19 Warnings and information

From the CDC website

CDC Symptoms of COVID-19       CDC Symptoms of COVID-19 sign language

CDC Instructions concerning COVID-19 Virus

Covenant Life CoG’ Response  to the Virus

  1. Pray for God’s intervention on behalf of the world’s population.  We are standing on Psalms 91 for God’s protection.
  2. We are adhering to the President’s instructions for gathering of groups of people of more than 10. Because of these preventative measures laid out by the President, we will not have regular church services through April 12, 2020.
  3. We will be live-streaming the pastor and a few of the worship team on Sunday mornings at 10 AM on Facebook Live.   Covenant Life CoG Facebook  
  4. We are standing in faith for all of us to get through this test by faith and see God move in our midst.
  5. Any changes to this schedule will be posted both here and on our Facebook page.

Psalm 91  (TPT)

Safe and Secure

91 When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai,
you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.
He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me,
the only God for me, and my great confidence.
He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy,
and he will protect you from false accusation
and any deadly curse.
His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.
You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night
nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you.
Don’t fear a thing!
Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you,
nor will the powers of evil launched against you.
Even in a time of disaster, with thousands and thousands being killed,
you will remain unscathed and unharmed.
you will be a spectator as the wicked perish in judgment,
for they will be paid back for what they have done!
9–10 When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High,
our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm.
How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?
11 God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go,
defending you from all harm.
12 If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you
and keep you from stumbling.
13 You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness,
trampling every one of them beneath your feet!
14 For here is what the Lord has spoken to me:
“Because you have delighted in me as my great lover,
I will greatly protect you.
I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face.
15 I will answer your cry for help every time you pray,
and you will find and feel my presence
even in your time of pressure and trouble.
I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.
16 You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you.
For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!”

 

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The Sacrifice of Praise includes a Contrite and Broken Heart

 

Thesis #26: “The New Apostolic Epoch”  By: P. Douglas Small

11/10/19 

We offer sacrifices of praise, like the Hebrews, while we ignore sacrifices of contrition and brokenness – of sin and trespass.

The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. The fear of the Lord  is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.

Proverbs 15:31-33 – NKJV

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.  (Psalm 51:17 – NKJV)

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

(Psalm 51:17 – NLT)

Prayer:  “Lord, the sacrifice you desire from us is not living a perfect life, but, being a worshipper who lives to bring praise and honor to Your Name.  One of the ways we worship you is by being repentant and living our repentance every day.  Only You could fix the “brokenness” in us caused by sinful disobedience.  We humbly confess the great need sin caused in us!  We pray Your forgiveness continues to work toward us because we continue to need it!  We ask that You forgive us and receive us as Your needy children.  With a contrite heart, we repent before You and trust that You will receive us and use us for Your glory here in the earth today.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior we pray, Amen!

 

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Reverence God in Prayer

Thesis #25: “The New Apostolic Epoch”  By: P. Douglas Small 

Rather than persistently, intentionally, reverently invoking God’s Presence and inviting Him into the experience of worship, we assume His Presence.  He is, at His own house, in a worship event in His Name and for His honor, in many – perhaps most – Evangelical-Pentecostal worship events, rumored to be present and taken for granted.  His Omnipresence (God is everywhere) is substituted for the welcomed, quickened, and dynamic sense of His presence.  There is no invocation, no coming before His holiness in a conscious and reverential sense.

1 Kings 8:1,5-10,14 – NKJV:

  • Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the City of David, which is Zion.
  • Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude.
  • Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim.
  • For the cherubim spread their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles.
  • The poles extended so that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.
  • Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
  • And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,

14) Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.

1 Kings 8:1,5-10,14 – NKJV

Prayer:  Lord, we count it the highest honor and privilege that You would honor us with Your Presence anytime.  The fact that You are “omnipresent” – with us all the time – should give rise to a commanding consciousness, to always revere and worship Your Holy Presence!

We repent before You this day, asking Your forgiveness for our failure in never ceasing to remember You with our praises, adoration and thanksgiving!  You are our God, this day we declare Your name before any who hear and all who listen!  May we never forget the love you extended to us when we were hopelessly trapped in sin, bound for hell, lost without YOU!

May each one of us who value our relationship with You, seek to recognize the markers of Your Presence, both within us and in our surroundings.  May we live in such a way that others can see You through the lives we live before them.

In the Name of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth, we pray!  Amen!

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Real Prayer

Thesis #24: “The New Apostolic Epoch”  By: P. Douglas Small

 

We sprinkle prayer into our worship celebrations – but we avoid real prayer, intense prayer, culturally offensive prayer, lament (which makes up 40 percent of the psalms).  We prefer only “pretty prayer, politically correct and positive prayer.

Prayer:  Help us as believers in Jesus Christ to not shy away from speaking the Truth and most importantly, living the Truth!  We believe Your Word, Lord, and we also believe it is the best prescription to combat the evil that exists all around us! Enlighten us to know the Truth thru reading your Word and gaining understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit!

Stir our spirit by Your Spirit to be strong in our resolve and courageous in our actions to address in prayer the issues that cause so much trouble in our nation.  We need Your blessing and favor, and that is going away from us because of sinful disobedience by many who choose to disobey Your commandments.  May our prayers be filled with expectation and hope of reversing the trends toward moving away from You in our laws and governance. Your word is still true that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people!”  Help us to be undeterred in our living, praying and speaking out on biblical truth, whether through prayer in our closets or in the public ear.  We know that you promised to hear our prayers when we pray in Your Name.

Establish us O God in the trenches of prayer for our nation and our world.  When the enemy comes to pilfer, plunder and destroy Your work, we expect to see the mighty move of Your power like an overwhelming flood against our enemy and his legions!

We know that through the power of the Name of Jesus, the battle will be won, the war will be successful!  And so, we pray in the Name of Jesus for victory, today, now, against our enemy and against the enemy of righteous who is the enemy of all men everywhere!

Amen!

 

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Genuine Worship Leads to Repentance

Thesis #23: “The New Apostolic Epoch”  By: P. Douglas Small 

We have developed techniques, adopted from the world, to enhance the worship experience.  Artful worship enhancement of itself is not a crime.  It is the substitution of genuine worship for artificial engagement of the senses, a substitution for the real ‘Presence’ of God that is destructive to both our lives and to God’s purposes.

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,…”

(Acts 3:19 NKJV)

O, God, we call upon You to hear our cries of repentance today for neglecting to seek You.  Help us to make You the central focus of our worship.  Guide us to that place in our worship where we connect with You in the understanding that Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Savior, has built a bridge of acceptance, love and living before You in the grace of Your forgiveness and through the ransom of His own life and blood.

Help us keep proper perspective on the presentations of those gifted with special abilities to inspire us through their God-gifted talents of music, of dance and art.  All glory belongs to You, for all things great and small, that reveals the magnificence of Your acceptance of all who call upon You, and worship You from the depth of their own heart with all their strength and ability.

Should we lose focus on the central theme of our worship, send Holy Spirit to bring us back and reestablish our sense of devotion to You and our humility before You.

We sincerely and humbly request that you grant these petitions in the Name of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Nazarene.  Amen!

 

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What is Worship?

Thesis #21: “The New Apostolic Epoch”  By: P. Douglas Small 

“Prayer’s primary purpose is transformation.” 

We have reduced worship to its ingredients – music, praise, extended hands, vibrant and joyful song, and a positive good news message.  In all that, we miss true worship.  Worship is, as the word suggests, a declaration of value – worth-ship.  It is the worth of God that elicits true worship.  And that requires exposure to God, and to His Presence – that God be seen and revealed.  Our humanistic version of worship obscures God and fixates instead on our worth.  All that we are and bring to worship pales in comparison to the incomparable and sovereign God.  It is a candle against the sunlight, a breath against a storm.  Such contrasts foster humility, so absent from contemporary worship (1 Chronicles 16:25-29; Psalms 99, 100; Revelation 4:8-11)

25) For the Lord  is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods.

26) For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the Lord made the heavens.

27) Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and gladness are in His place.

28) Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Give to the Lord glory and strength.

29) Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!

(1 Chronicles 16:25-29 NKJV)

Psalm 99:1-9

01)The Lord reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved!

02) The  Lord  is great in Zion, And He is high above all the peoples.

03) Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy.

04) The King’s strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

05) Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy.

06) Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called upon His name; They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.

07) He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar; They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them.

08) You answered them, O Lord our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, Though You took vengeance on their deeds.

09) Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.

(Psalm 99:1-9 NKJV)

Psalm 100:1-5

01)Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!

02) Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.

03) Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

04) Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

05) For the Lord  is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

(Psalm 100:1-5 NKJV)

Revelation 4:8-11

08)The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

09) Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

10) the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

11) “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Revelation 4:8-11 NKJV

Prayer:  O God, keep us on task in our worship of You.

You said in the Bible that “…the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will  worship the Father in  spirit  and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:23-24 NKJV).  With all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we believe that time has come!

Your worth and value to us can’t be spoken in a single day or even at a certain time.  It can only be lived by demonstrating our loyalty, our devotion and our own personal faith in Your sovereignty over our lives!

We can, and we do, give you thanks, as our creator, as the creator of the whole earth!  May our worship be birthed from knowing You, not from doing what we think is the right thing to do in our worship of You. You have made Yourself known to us through the Word of God and by the Holy Spirit.  Guide us each day to know You better and better, that we can make you known to others through the testimony we live before them.    Lord Jesus, we want to know You!  And experience the mighty power that raised You from the dead. WE want to suffer with You! We want to share in Your death, so that one way or another we will experience the resurrection from the dead!  (Taken from Philippians 3:10-11 NLT)

In Your Name Jesus, we pray!  Amen!

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Let us worship God with a pure heart

Thesis #20: “The New Apostolic Epoch”  By: P. Douglas Small 

Seeing God’s love and ignoring His holiness, we design positive and nurturing worship services free from conviction of sin, actually making people comfortable in sin, and simultaneously placing them in a worship event with a holy God – such actions are blasphemous.

“…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,….”  (Ephesians 5:26 NKJV)

“Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.”  (2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT)

Prayer:  Lord, let the intent of our worship be to come before You so that we may experience Your unequaled love that causes us to feel accepted, Your healing grace that works the miracle of cleansing salvation in our sinful hearts and Your convicting Presence that calls and prepares us for a life of holiness. We desire to get “better” Lord, at being Your children and living as Your servants in this world.  We accept the challenge of making this world a better place because we are here.  Come by Your Spirit and lead us on in our journey through this world to become a better people because we know and obey You!  In the Name of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ we pray!  Amen!

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Prayer brings Christian growth and development

Thesis #19: “The New Apostolic Epoch”  By: P. Douglas Small

 

Last week:  “Love affirms, but God’s holiness challenges us.  Prayer centers us in God’s love, but, then His Presence exposes us to His holiness – and moves us by grace and consecration, into deeper levels of His likeness”… 

This week:

…Prayer, then, is the basic context for Christian growth and development, not preaching, not left-brain discipleship programs.

The assumption here is that there is more growth in discipleship through prayer than any other personal effort.  I agree with the assumption!  I have personally grown more in my faith and my relationship with God from taking my Bible, opening it and reading it, and praying my way through what I read, to understanding and practice.    What happens in a church worship service is of little consequence if it does nothing to command the way we live our lives outside of that worship experience.  Prayer is more about personal change than any other practice in the Christian faith.  When you pray, it is just you and God.  One on one!  There should be no distractions, no hindrances to hearing Him as you commune with Him and He with you in your session of prayer. With the Word of God before you, the Holy Spirit within you as your guide,  through your prayers, and your own personal hunger for righteousness, for holiness…you will grow in your relationship with God!

Let’s pray:  “O God, You are my God!  I want to be your disciple, so I read Your Word and pray for understanding to apply what I read.  I ask, Holy Spirit, that You would put a deep, abiding hunger in our hearts now, for more of the Scripture and for more of close encounters with the Father!

Lord, we have found this world to be a confusing, messed up place and we don’t want to be it’s next victim!  So, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we turn to You, asking that you be our daily guide through the Bible so that each day we live is used to honor and glorify You before others.  We will do our best to honor the appointment with You in prayer, each day, keeping it above all others.

We love You Lord, and desire Your Presence within, to heal us and prepare us for Your use in this world and for our future with You in heaven!  AMEN!

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