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Experience or CHRIST-Substance?

Here are a few of the truths we all should be in agreement on as Christ followers…

Romans 14:17 For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Mark 12:28-31 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” Jesus answered, “is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Matthew 6:7-14 And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

And finally Jesus prayer in John 17, and the key passage of all of us being one as He and the Father are one, so the world may know Him

John 17:2 That they may all be one; even AS You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

I am all over that stuff and by His grace and through His Spirit, I seek to live in those ways. It is much easier when we are led by Him, to love as He does, and have grace as He does, but also live in His truth, as we should…

Now we come to the point of this pondering… And this is not easy, and I pray you will hear my heart on this.

One concern I have today is for the seemingly abundant pursuit of experience over content. Many in their hunger for God are being seduced into trends that do not breed sound doctrine or a sound mind. Many subjective teachings from charismatic leaders especially, are becoming doctrinal to some, and it seems in some situations it has become a completely wrongful focus. Now that does not take away from the real supernatural and unexplainable ways of God, but it calls to question the hype, manipulation, and deception that comes in the guise of something more, something different, fun, frenzied, and with a “wow” factor kick.

It seems like the more “extreme” the experience the more audiences it is capturing. So we now have a segment of people getting addicted to these experiences, waiting for the next “extreme” opportunity. I have seen several people, families, and churches drawn into this and though it has brought forth some numbers, in most cases it has been counter productive in bringing forth fruit that remains.

Father has deposited everything we need in each one of us to live in His supernatural presence and engage with Him in miraculous ways as He leads us and gives us grace to do so. In everyday life, most of the time He operates in powerfully practical ways, as He is motivated to flow through our lives as relevant witnesses of Himself to the earth.

Jesus was practical, supernaturally practical… What is it you need? And then He would answer the need in miraculous ways… We are now going around as the needy. A part of the Body of Christ is hungry and thirsty for self-pleasing excitement, manifestations, “glory realm” experiences, and often missing the real opportunities of relevant service and love to those who need it the most.. I am all for experiences and supernatural transformation when God’s glory brings them, but it should not be our pursuit, and shame on those that lead others to chasing frenzied experiences rather than the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

One woman was so thrilled as she had traveled to 3 conferences in a row that had gems seemingly appear on the floors of the church, (the leader is known for having gems in their meetings). I asked her what it meant to her when she saw gemstones in meetings, and she said that it meant that God loved her. I do not pretend to think I have a lot of answers, but I am always good with the questions, so I asked her. “Can you feel God’s abiding love when you do not see gemstones?” Could it not be severely compromising to seek after a sign for proof of God’s love? Later it was found out that an assistant to this speaker had planted the fake gemstones in the church before the meeting began.

Matthew 16:4Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah 6 “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Now keep in mind, I have experienced as well as many others the unexplainable miraculous power of God, but we were not seeking after the signs, but the signs follow believers as they follow after Him. I do not doubt that God can do whatever He wills, but they it will be real, and not staged. I had heard of another church that found dozens of these gems. This is a poor church in another country. I asked if they were able to sell the gems and feed the poor, and the answers was no, because they could not identify the stone. They said experts claimed it was from another planet, so they had no value on earth. I asked if it were possible for me to get a sample to do my own test and they declined.

I have a lot of questions. I don’t have all the answers and only the Father can show you His way for you. I am not sharing this out of experience, and I am also not sharing this for any other motive than to encourage the very best for the Body of Christ. If it is not His best or His intent, will we embrace change. Will we go after His best in CHARACTER, integrity, love, mercy, holiness, and all the good God stuff? Can we begin to embrace the “BE ATTITUDES” of His word, and allow Him to bring the experiences of His glory that we need as we worship Him in every day life?

I am simply asking all of us to consider what we are engaging with. What are our motives? What is Father doing? What does He desire for us through our relationships, communities, and experiences? Is there more that He desires from us in our pursuit of HIM?

Lord, help us pursue you alone, and not chase after signs or wonders? May we allow You to bring your signs and wonders as You see fit to follow our obedience to You. Lead us towards your agape love and pursue those who need your love. Help us to not get caught up in feel good phenomena’s in order to serve You and others more. Help us to think less of self as we are busy about your business in doing more good to others. When your presence overwhelms us, many awesome and wondrous things begin to happen. We desire to pursue You, Your presence, Your will, Your love, and expect the supernatural to occur in everyday life. We know that as we allow You to lead us into Christ-likeness, the gates of hell will not prevail against us and Your beloved church.

Robert Ricciardelli

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