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Awesomely Experiencing God

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
– Teddy Roosevelt

When you lie in your bed on one of those nights when you are thinking about life, how do you know for sure that God is real? Circle one or more of the following

  • You saw a shooting star on your birthday.
  • Your mom and dad said so.
  • Your big brother went off to college and you got his room.
  • You asked someone out on a date and that person said yes.
  • Your algebra teacher was sick on exam day and passed everyone.
  • Your dad didn’t notice when you didn’t fill the car back up with gas.
  • You didn’t have to kiss great Aunt Mary’s hairy lips at the family reunion.
  • You experience God’s power and presence in your life every day.

In answer to Oprah Winfrey’s question on why he does so much for terminally ill children, Michael Jackson said, "I try to imitate Jesus." Later he was asked, "Do you have anything in your life that is for sure?" To this he responded with confidence: "No."

I’m not sure where Michael Jackson is in his relationship with God, but one thing is sure: He isn’t that different from the majority of people who call themselves Christians. They speak highly of Jesus. They may even pattern part of their lives after Jesus, but deep down they are not really sure that Jesus is real. They have not experienced the presence and power of God in their lives.

If you are going to tell others about Christ effectively, then you must talk about Him from your own personal experience.

Personal experience makes all the difference. For example, the way you tell someone about the new roller coaster you heard advertised on TV at Six Flags is one thing. The way you tell about the new roller coaster that you personally rode 20 times until you threw up on your best friend is another!

You need to know without a doubt that you are experiencing God’s presence in your life daily.

Recall two times that you felt close to God. What was happening? Where were you? What were the circumstances that made God seem so real?
         1.

         2.

Possibly you have felt so close to God that it was as if He was with you physically. Or maybe you have never felt particularly close to God. Either way, God wants you to experience Him every day! The Apostle Peter spent more time with Jesus physically than any other person.

From Peter’s encounter with Jesus in Matthew 14:25-31, what do you discover about how to experience God’s presence and His power?

Believe Jesus for the Impossible!

Of all the disciples, Peter was the only one who actually believed that it was Jesus walking on the water. That’s understandable. It isn’t every day that you see some guy walking across the lake without a Ski Nautique.

After seeing Jesus perform miracle after miracle, why do you think the disciples still doubted that He could walk on water?

Today, after 2,000 years of Jesus accomplishing the impossible again and again, people skill respond the way the disciples did.

Give three reasons why you think people (possibly including you) doubt that Jesus can do the impossible.

         1.

         2.

         3.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair – probably the most famous atheist of our time – was asked why so many people are afraid of her. She responded, "I tell you why some Christians are. They are not sure what they believe is true. If they were, I wouldn’t be a threat to them at all.

If we experience the presence of an all-powerful God every day, then we wouldn’t struggle so much to believe Him for the impossible.

Jim Elliot, the famous missionary murdered by the cannibals he tried to reach with the love of Jesus, said, "I have prayed for new miracles. Explaining old miracles will not do. If God is to be known as the God who does wonders in heaven and earth, then God must produce for this generation."

After Jim Elliot was shot to death with arrows by the Auca Indians his wife, Elisabeth, went back with their daughter to live among the Aucas to share the love of Christ. In time, hundreds of people in that tribe accepted Christ – including one of the men who killed her husband. Today the majority of the Aucas are followers of Christ. The man who killed Jim Elliot is the pastor of one of the churches.

For God to become real to you, you must believe that He is present and powerful, and that He can do anything.

What kind of miracle do you want to believe God for in your life, family, or campus? Be specific.

 

 

Leave everything else to come to Jesus

It’s one thing to believe something in your mind. It’s another to put it into action with your body.

Of all the disciples, it appears that Peter was the only one who took a single step toward getting out of the boat.

If you had been in Peter’s sandals, why would you have either stayed in the boat or gotten out?

  • Stayed In
  • Gotten Out

If you had been the one swinging your leg over the side of the boat, what would have been going through your mind?

One reason people don’t experience God is that they don’t have anything to trust Him for. Or if they do have something, they refuse to step over the side and let go.

For example, Krissy accepted Christ, but still carried on her relationship with her boyfriend. Her friend challenged her to give Christ all of her life, including her sexual relationship with her boyfriend. Krissy responded, I will give Christ anything but that; that is the only thing I can’t give up."

She was unwilling to step out of the boat and trust Christ with her boyfriend. Krissy stayed in the "comfort zone" of the boat, afraid that if she let go, Jesus would let her down.

But I believe most students want to have the courage to step out like this young man:

Under Communist rule, Christians in Romania suffered persecution from the government. The police picked up a teenage boy from a Christian family for questioning. This common practice was designed to separate the young people from their parents’ faith. The large officer took off his belt and popped it as he questioned the boy. Then the officer told him to make a choice. "Choose to play soccer and go to school, or choose to believe in a God who doesn’t exist." The boy pondered for a moment, then stood up. With tears in his eyes he said, "You can take my soccer and you can take my education, but you can never, ever take away my faith in my Lord Jesus Christ."

That’s taking the big leap!

Which of the two people just described experienced more of the power and presence of God?

 

Where do you struggle with stepping out of the boat?
  • Athletic success
  • Relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Communicating with your parents
  • Bitterness toward someone who has hurt you
  • Money
  • Popularity/reputation
  • Sexual desires
  • Studying/grades
  • Car
  • The future
  • Witnessing to your friends
  • Something else not mentioned here _____________________

What one thing in your life do you most enjoy doing?

 

If that were taken away from you, do you believe that Christ could actually fill the void?
                         Yes              No
Jumping out of the boat into the seemingly uncertain future can be frightening.

Vicki expressed it this way as I challenged her to take a step of faith: "It’s like jumping off a cliff and not knowing whether someone will catch you or not."

Sure it’s frightening, but there is more to the story!

Step Out to Experience Jesus’ Power and Presence

It didn’t work. Peter sank! Yeah, he stepped out—but he sank. He wiped out. He blew it. He didn’t have enough faith. He saw a couple of barracuda licking their chops, and BAM, he’s drinking the ultimate Uncola.

But wait! Is that it? Nope. The "Peter Blows It Again" saga continues. Read the story again and see if you can find what happened that positively changed the rest of Peter’s life.

          1.

          2.

Peter Experienced the Power of God

Check it out! Peter actually walked on the water! None of the other disciples did that. When was the last time you did it? It’s not something you just go out and do every day. You see bungee jumpers, sky divers, cliff climbers, but no water walkers. The only way Peter pulled that off was by God’s power.

What do you think this did for Peter’s faith? Imagine Peter’s interview with Dick Vitale on ESPN. After video footage and Peter’s comments, Dick Vitale says: "He walked on water. We’re talking H 2 0, baby! Human hydroplane! He walked where Flipper flipped!" Peter’s life would never be the same because he actually experienced the power of God. Once you experience His power you will never be the same either.

What one practical step do you need to take toward Jesus to experience His power?

Peter Experienced the Presence of God

News Update: "Today the Apostle Peter drowned while trying to walk across the lake. Allegedly Jesus was on the water too, but refused to do anything to help."

NOT! So if that’s not the story, what is?

Before Peter even got his Speedo wet, Jesus reached out His hand. Right there, Peter touched the presence of God. Because none of the other disciples took the risk, none of them got to experience Jesus’ strong hand.

I was playing basketball for the number-three team in the nation. My future looked bright. But I knew that as a new Christian, basketball overshadowed my walk with Christ. One day I had the thought: "Maybe you shouldn’t be playing basketball." I dismissed it as a ridiculous thought, because I had played basketball all my life. I had prepared for years for this time, sweeping the snow off the court in the winter, and practicing eight hours a day in the summer.

A little later I read Matthew 6:33, "Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness." I knew basketball was more important to me than my relationship with God. In the hardest decision I’ve ever made, I stepped out of the boat and gave up my basketball scholarship. I thought I would have a huge void in my life.

But to show you how neat God is, within a week I got involved in working with young people – now my life’s work. If I had not quit basketball, I would never have met the people who got me involved in working with young people. And, check this out, within a year the Lord put me on a national and international team that played college and university teams all over the United States and around the world. At halftime and after the game we would present the good news of Christ to thousands of people. Now instead of playing for myself, I played for Him!

When we step out of the boat, Jesus always comes through!

What areas of your life do you want to "walk on water" and see the power and presence of God at work? (Circle them below.) Then pick the one where you most want to see God demonstrate His power.
  • Anger
  • Your weight
  • Your parents’ relationship
  • Discipline
  • Your youth group
  • Christians unified at school
  • Friends coming to Christ
  • Fear
  • Sexual thoughts
  • Broken relationships
  • Worry
  • Your best friend stealing your girlfriend
  • Low self-esteem
  • The "want" monster
  • Standing up to temptation/pressure
  • Grades
  • Athletics
  • Other

Express to God in your own words that you are "letting go and letting God" release His power and presence to meet your need.

Take the Plunge!

Sure it’s scary. You’re right, you lose control. Definitely, it’s a big risk. But how will you ever know if Jesus really "works" unless you put your leg over the side of the boat, let go, and take a faith walk? It’s a big step toward God using you on your campus. Go for it! Jesus has you by the hand!

I have decided to take the risk to be used powerfully by God.

Signed __________________________________________

Now get ready for God to change your character.

From Victor Books and Reach Out Ministries Call 770.441.2247


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