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Going for Gold

"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of Your presence, Lord."

- Psalm 89:15

The Olympics. Every four years we experience this global phenomenon that demonstrates the highest level of athletic competition and national pride. From the spectacular opening ceremonies to the iconic symbol of the five rings to the catchy music that NBC has created, this two week event taking place in Brazil, has a way of drawing in all types of viewers (from the avid to the nominal sports fan). I know that our family has been sucked into watching the U.S. go for gold. I have found myself watching sporting events that I normally don't give a second thought to in a regular calendar year. Each Olympics I become a swimming, gymnastics, diving, and track & field fan!

As I think about how the Olympic events become must-see television despite the fact they are not mainstream sports, I am reminded of how we need to find a greater familiarity and frequency of being in GOD'S PRESENCE. Far too often we treat spending time with God like the Olympics: We show up once a week to church or find ourselves in prayer only when times of crisis arise. Due to the fast pace of life, the demands of each day, and the discipline it requires to spend time in worship, prayer, and God's Word, we end up going long periods of time without stopping and dwelling with our heavenly Father. This reality makes us unfamiliar with the amazing gift of His love and presence. And without this fullness life becomes empty, ordinary, and ineffective. II Peter 1:5-8 gives us a picture of what walking and growing with God looks like, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection and love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I think that we all recognize that it is in the Lord's presence we experience a measure of love, truth, peace, strength, and hope that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. This is not just a good place for us to be, but the best and safest. So the question must be asked: If spending time with God in deep fellowship and walking out faith in the Spirit is so wonderful, why does this time become so irregular and unimportant in our lives? This past Sunday during our pre-service prayer I found myself resting in the presence of the Lord in such a peaceful manner, that I immediately recognized the need to be in that joyful and powerful place much more than I have been lately. The wonderful invitation and gift of God's presence is something we can experience and enjoy each day. It doesn't have to wait until a Sunday morning service or your next emergency. You can enter His presence when you...

* First wake-up while lying in your bed.

* On the drive to the office, the supermarket, or your next appointment.

* Prepare to have a conversation with someone or need to make an important decision.

* Take a walk in the neighborhood.

* Have dinner with the family.

* Find yourself with some peace and quiet (aka- alone time).

The more time we find ourselves reading the Bible, meditating on His promises, talking to God in prayer, and praising Him, the more prepared we will be for every facet of life. God's presence ushers us into a place of joy, liberty, and victory. Each of us have the opportunity to feel the exhilaration and accomplishment of any world -class, gold medal athlete at the summer games. Let's enter God's presence, stay in God's presence, and enjoy God's presence. In His fullness we will find ourselves standing (like the winner on the Olympic podium), receiving the greatest reward, and hearing the most beautiful and victorious anthem ever made. Ephesians 1:3 declares, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." The song and strength of heaven is available to us all, let's dive in!

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