The Encounter: The Promise by John Burke

We began a new series at Gateway Church in Austin.

This week, John Burke shared on “The Promise.”

Watch John’s message here:

Discuss ways to apply the message here:

Next Steps for your life group or family dinner.

Notes from John’s message are here:


What might God do in and through you if you simply developed
the habit of staying in a continuous conversation with God, willing to do his will?

That’s what we’re exploring in this Encounter Series because that’s what Jesus was all about: The Goal of the Christian life is to Do Life in relationship with God…it’s why God created us—to Do life with God each moment of the day.

The Scripture says:

God [created us] so that people would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. `For in him we live and move and have our being.’” – Acts 17:27-28

God is with us, even sustaining our lives, but we live unaware. Clearly this is what Jesus was modeling–living in constant contact with God the Father:

Jesus said:One Thing?“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.” – John 5:19

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me.” – John 4:34

One Thing?

One time Jesus and probably 20 of his closest followers were at the home of Mary, Martha and lazarus. Martha was busy trying to get food on the table—she was doing a good thing, serving Jesus, but how she was doing it was not good. She got all frustrated, stressed and bitter because she was working hard for Jesus, and her sister wasn’t.

Jesus said to Martha, [like he might say to me and you today]:

Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary. – Luke 10:41-42

If only one thing is necessary that would simplify our busy lives, wouldn’t it? But what is it? What is the One Thing Necessary?

Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening…. – Luke 10:39

Listening and paying attention.

The way we love God is by listening and responding – being obedient.

Jesus knew this very simple thing is precisely humanity’s problem – our habit is to be self-centered not God-centered most of every day. This is what Jesus was trying to get across his last night on earth. On the way to Gethsemane, he picks up a branch, “look, you are like this branch, and I’m like the vine. A branch doesn’t work real hard to produce fruit, all it has to do is stay connected to the vine and fruit grows naturally.”

I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

You can do nothing!

Now you may say, Whoa! I can do lots of things apart from Jesus – build a business, humanitarian good, be good father or mother, but what Jesus is saying is that you can keep yourself incredibly busy “do-gooding” and miss the whole point of your existence which is to live life in relationship with God who created you to Love Him and wants to teach to truly love others according to his will and ways.

Galatians 5:18-22 says if we do this One Thing, stay walking through the day in connection with His Spirit, He changes us from the inside out so that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness—these qualities that help us truly love others start to grow more and more naturally from within.

As we learn to stay connected moment by moment to God’s Spirit, talking over our day, our struggles, our desires, our questions. Responding to what we sense is his will—something life-giving grows within us naturally. That’s how we know we’re staying connected—it becomes more natural to do the loving thing. Jesus put it this way his last night:

Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples [followers].”
– John 13:34-35

Start with Awareness

Staying connected requires being aware of God’s presence with you throughout the day.

The more you practice, the easier it gets to spot God’s Presence.

God promised:

The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you….” – 2 Chronicles 15:2

Your Creator is with you, always has been, but we are unaware because we don’t seek Him. You must learn how to become Aware in a new way, and over time, it gets easier and easier.

How do we become aware of God’s presence?

Stop whatever is going on in your mind, and consider the following questions:

  • “Am I even aware of this moment?”
  • “Am I aware that God is here with me and is capable and willing to interact with me, right now?”

Truth is, so many of us live everywhere except in this moment! Yet this moment is where we Encounter God—or not.

  • Some of us are stuck in the past. We feel so bad or so guilty about our past and we aren’t aware that in Christ God paid the price to forgive us fully—so we would stay connected to him today.
  • Some of us feel stuck because we know something we’re doing is wrong, but we can’t stop.  Are you aware that right now, God is with you to set you free from that?!
  • Some of us are so busy living in the future, we miss the moments of life with God. We are so consumed with worry about what might or might not happen so we’re missing the only moment we’re guaranteed—This one.

What God wants from you is not your perfection, is not religion, but relationship. God wants you – the son or daughter He created. You can’t have a relationship without awareness of His presence.

You don’t have to figure out how, just do One Thing– Stay connected! Jesus produces the fruit!

The 60:60 Experiment

This 60 Day experiment teaches us to Love God, so He can grow us into more naturally loving, peaceful, kind, patient, life-giving people.

Commit as much of yourself as you understand to as much of God as you understand, and see if you don’t Encounter the Living God like He promised.

Even if you don’t believe yet—for 60 days trust that His promises are true, seek Him, and see what happens.

Here’s how the 60-60 works.

  • Every 60 minutes for the next 60 days, pause and remember that God is present with you in that moment no matter what you’re doing, and invite Him to guide you step by step throughout your next 60 minutes.
  • To help remind you to pause every 60 minutes, set your watch/phone to beep every hour or download the Soul Revolution App that will send you helpful reminder notifications.
  • Share with your friends, family, Running Partner &/or Life Group about how you see God showing up.

The goal is not perfection, the goal is progress—to get better and better at moment by moment connection to God’s Spirit, aware, asking, listening, responding.

Take up the 60 day challenge to develop a new habit – the habit of continuous, honest conversation with God, willing to do his will, see if you don’t encounter the Living God in a new way—maybe for the first time.

Continual Communication with God

Just like in any relationship, the more you communicate, the better you relate.

You’re having a continuous conversation with yourself all the time anyway—so just include God – the One who created You and already sees inside your head.

  • Get honest with God.
  • Keep your mind open to His thoughts, and talking over everything each moment of each day.
  • Listen for His Voice to guide you.

This Soul Revolution experiment is based on what Jesus said is most important. He said it his last night on earth, recorded in John chapters 13-17. Consider what Jesus revealed the real God to be like (rather than the false images we have of God in our minds):

  • The Creator is a lover (John 13:1, 16:26). There’s no one in the Universe who loves you more.
  • He has authority over everything (John 13:3)
  • The Creator is humble (John 13:5). That’s why he doesn’t push or power up or force his will on us, he waits for our willingness.
  • The Creator is a servant (John 13:5) He stoops to wash our feet to show us what love acts like.
  • The Creator is a Comforter, a Helper, a Counselor who will never leave us (John 14:16-17)
  • God teaches us what’s true and good (John 14:26)
  • God gives peace of mind and takes away our troubles and our fears (John 14:27)
  • The Creator wants us to remain moment by moment in his Love so that God produces His Joy in us. (John 15:9-11)
  • The Creator wants to be your friend (John 15:15)
  • Even in our trials and sorrows, He is with us and will overcome it (John 16:33)

Why wouldn’t you want to do life with a God like that? Even if you’re not sure what you believe—for 60 days, commit as much of yourself as you understand to as much of God as you understand, and as you become more willing, you’ll Encounter God, and you’ll LIKE IT.

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