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Watch 2022 online sermons » Creflo Dollar » Creflo Dollar - How to Experience The Presence of God - Part 1

Creflo Dollar - How to Experience The Presence of God - Part 1

Creflo Dollar - How to Experience The Presence of God - Part 1
TOPICS: God's Presence

If you have your Bibles with you today, if you'll go with me to the book of Matthew chapter 11. Matthew chapter 11, and verse 28 through 30, we're gonna continue this series on "How to Experience the Presence of God," and the major focus today is in the area of intimacy. "How to Experience the Presence of God," and we're gonna really focus on intimacy with God and what does that mean.

Now, the real purpose of salvation is not just so we can miss hell or not go to hell although that probably was, at one time, a motivation for a lot of people, but the real purpose of salvation is an intimate relationship with God. Please understand me, it's not "I'm gonna get saved so I don't go to hell," but Jesus died so that you can get saved, and instead of just knowing about God, you get to know him. You get to know him intimately, and that's when you move out of religion and just the mechanics of Christianity into a real personal relationship with him, and then this Bible works, and then these promises come to pass. Other than that, you know, you're just learning all of the things you'll do as a Christian but never knowing who he is, knowing about God but never knowing God.

Now, this really touched my heart when I looked at this intimacy. If you'll take a man and a woman in a marriage, you understand that, in order to get to that place of intimacy, and I'm talkin' about real intimacy, not just sex but real intimacy, it's gonna require being vulnerable, and vulnerability can be a scary thing because, when you become vulnerable with somebody, they could hurt you. They could betray you. They could do all kinds of things with that, and, yet there is an opportunity for us to have an intimate relationship with God.

So, over the last month, you've heard me talk about an intimate relationship with God, but I wanna take some time and give you some practical things concerning what this means, and so, again, Jesus Christ, the real purpose for our salvation, the real reason why he died was not just to deliver us from hell, but he died so we can each have a intimate relationship with God. Christianity is not so much about all the rules you have to keep. It is more about taking advantage to have a intimate, real, one-on-one relationship with God. It's not just about wearing a Christian T-shirt that says, "I'm a Christian," because, you know, you keep all the rules, and you try to convince people that you never mess up, but Christianity is about a personal relationship, an intimate relationship with God.

Let me begin this morning by defining the word "intimacy" so we'll be on the same page. "Intimacy" is "a close, familiarity or friendship, a close familiarity or friendship". How familiar are you with the God you say you serve? Would you say you have a friendship with God, or, you know, is it... do you know about God, or do you actually have a close familiarity, a close friendship with God? Is there a closeness there between you and God? You see, as human beings, we long for acceptance. We long for not just acceptance, but we long for unconditional acceptance. That means, no matter what you do, you're accepted by God, and, you know, religion has taught us that, if you do this, this, this, this, God doesn't accept you.

Let me tell ya something: If there's anybody who has unconditional acceptance for you, it's God, amen? So we long for unconditional acceptance, and we long for closeness, unconditional closeness with God. God wants that. God wants to be close with you, but there's no desire on your part as a human to really be close with God because somebody told you that's not possible, that only Jesus can be close to God. There can be a closeness with God where God can speak to you, and you can literally be talking to him and ask him for certain things or talkin' about certain things and to see it done on a day-to-day basis. You know, when that first started happening to me, it was kind of "Wow, God responded".

Now it's no big deal because that's just where we are right now. There is an intimacy. There's a closeness. There's unconditional acceptance. You know, we want to be cared for. That's a big thing. People wanna be cared for. People want somebody to care about them, to care for them. That's one of the biggest hungers in the world right now: "I don't feel like I'm cared for". People want to be cared for. They want to be known. They want to be understood and loved for who they are regardless of what they go through. Remember, last week, I told you Jesus didn't come to condemn the world. Then why are so many Christians condemning other people? We've got to get to a point where we can care for people no matter what, and that's somethin' that was made possible.

Now, when you look at this area of intimacy, there's really four types of intimacies, and I wanna break 'em down so you can see what we're talkin' about here today. There is mental intimacy, there is emotional intimacy, there is spiritual intimacy, and then there is physical intimacy. Mental intimacy, emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and physical intimacy, and out of these four, only one includes touching, and that's physical intimacy, and it seems like that's what most people are familiar with. When you use the word "intimacy," they're familiar with sex, they're familiar with touching, but there's a mental intimacy, there is a spiritual intimacy between you and the Father. There's an emotional intimacy.

That word "intimacy" literally means "you can come into me and see," and what have you shown some? Who has been able to see your mental part? Who has been able to see into your emotions? Who have allowed you to be a part of that relationship between you and God? We're only with the area physical intimacy, and I tell you, you can have sex with somebody and still not have ever achieved real intimacy. It's not just touching. And so, John 16... well, let me read this, Matthew chapter 11:28. He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden," and he says, "I will give you rest". "If you come to me, I will give you rest". Verse 29, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest in your souls," 30, "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light".

When I look at developing an intimate relationship with God, of course, it starts with his Word. It starts with his Word. I need to know somethin' about him. I need to know somethin' about him, and the Word tells me about him. It gives me knowledge about him, and guess what happens? The more I learn about him, I enter into, number two, a fellowship with him. So I take what I learn about him, and then I can fellowship with him, and like any other relationships, once you start fellowshipping with him, there's a level of intimacy that's working there because you know about him, and you're spending time with him. You're talkin' with him. He's talkin' to you. You're praying. You're getting in that Word. You see, you don't open the Bible up and read it as a rule.

"Well, I'm a Christian. I guess I gotta read my Bible". The Bible is the opportunity, it's like the opportunity for me to learn about him, and then, as I'm learning about him, I start fellowshipping with him, glory be to God, but it starts with the Word, right? It starts with the Word, and I don't know any other way to explain to Christians, you're never gonna be able to have a intimate relationship with God, excusin' the Word, not spendin' time learning about him. See, if you don't learn about him, then some devilish person can come to mislead you about who he is, and whatever you think God is, that's what you're gon' start expectin' from him. If you think God is a judge and that he's gon' judge you for everything you do wrong, that's what you expect from him. When you think God is someone that's not gonna meet your needs, then, when you have needs, then that's what you come to expect 'cause somebody told you that.

Somebody told you that. And so we've got to get in the Word so we can know some things about him, and then we enter into fellowship with him, and then we begin to develop an impression. This is my impression of God that I know that my God is love, and I know my God is peace, and I know my God will do anything for me. He wants to be with me. He wants a relationship with me, and then, after that impression, then I begin to experience him. This is what I'm talkin' about with God. We've limited our Christianity to just come to church, read the Bible, and keep the rules. That's not it. That's not it. It's not comin' to church, read your Bible, keep the rules. It's about "Do you know him"? Do you know him when you're up? Do you know him when you're down? Do you know him when you're good? Do you know him when you're bad?

See, if you develop an impression about God, and you think, "Well, God is only gonna be good to me when I'm good," you've got the wrong impression of God. God's not good to you because you're good. God is good to you because he's good. He's not responding to what you do. He's responding based on who he is, hallelujah, and, still, we have churches that are just "You gotta keep this rule. God gon' get ya. You're gonna go to hell. You got married three times. Somethin' wrong with you. You did that wrong. You messed up here," and they're just keepin' score. Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but ya got preachers in churches that are condemning the world.

Jesus says, "I didn't come to condemn the world. I came to rescue you. I came to save you and deliver you out of the stuff that you're dealin' with. I didn't come to beat you up and beat you down and condemn you to hell and tell you, 'You ain't nothin I want relationship with you. I want you no matter what, and when you miss it, I'm there to counsel you. I'm there to talk to you. I'm there to pick you up. I am there to pull you out of a ditch. I am there to do whatever it needs because I love you. I can't help but to love you. I'm a jealous God because I'll fight for you when somebody else has more of your attention than I do. I love you. I'm never gonna leave you. I'm never gon' stop fighting for you'". Oh, my God. We gotta step out of this religion.

Look at that same verse of Scripture in the New Living Translation, please. No, look at it in The Message. Let's go to The Message translation at what we just read, 28. Look at this. If you could, put it on the screen so everybody could see what I'm seein'. "Are you tired"?, heh, some of y'all are like, "Mm-hmm", "Worn out? Burned out on religion"? I wrote a book "Why I Hate Religion". "Burned out on religion"? He said, "Here's what I want you to do: Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me. Work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly". That is an invitation to an intimate relationship with God, and not in any of those places did you hear him say, "Keep all the rules. Do all of this. Be a goody-goody thing".

See, he's gonna take care of that through the relationship. The relationship will give birth to all of that. You gon' wanna do right when you're in relationship with somebody so full of love, when you're in relationship with the righteousness that came from God in the first place, but we don't get it. We still want to play church. We still want to play church and be churchy and brag about how much we know about God, but you don't know him. You don't know him. And then, when you mess up, you're so full of shame, and you're so full of guilt, and you're so full of condemnation, and God is standin' there, screamin', "Hey, man, I still love you, and I still want you, and I can still use you," but the preacher said, "God can't use you. God don't like ugly, and he condemns you, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Look at what you did". That is not God. He don't know God. He don't even know about God, and you keep goin' to that church 'cause that's your mama's church.

Excuse me, but you better find the right church, but you're gon' have the wrong impression of God. God is not a punisher. God is not punishing you every time you miss the mark. He knows what happens. Even as humans we know that, when your little baby learns how to walk, and he's one-and-a-half, two-years-old, whatever, and he's tryin' to learn how to walk, you don't beat the baby down every time he falls. "Fall one more time. Fall one more time, and see, burn you with the, fall one more time. I'll throw you in that fireplace. Fall one more time". You don't even do that, and, yet you're believin' that God would do somethin' like that? Honey, when you least expect for God to show up and have anything to do with your little nasty self, he will show up right in the middle of your nasty and speak to you and let you know, "I ain't goin' nowhere," and then turn around and deliver you from your nasty.

Oh, my God, who wouldn't serve a God like that? Yeah, I ain't gon' cry. I ain't gon' cry. Glory be... you're gonna run into people all the time, "Yeah, but the Bible say this, and the Bible say that. Well, you know, I don't believe in that 'cause the Bible say this". All right, bro, you tellin' me about the Bible. All right, yeah, we know how much you know the Bible, and we know you know Scriptures. You know the Greek. Praise the Lord. You done went to cemetery school, and you got your little degree. You've been ordained by five of the greatest pastors in the entire country. Yeah, you know all of that, but do you know him? Do you know him? "They that know their God shall do exploits". Do you know him when you're in the ditch? Do you know him when you're broke? Do you know him when you're goin' through a divorce? Do you know him when you had an abortion? Do you know him? Can he lift you up?

"I don't agree with Pastor Dollar". I don't care. I know Jesus. And that's the problem. We're lookin' for validation from all the wrong people in all the wrong places. God has already validated you, qualified you. Certainly, you don't think you can show up before God, already qualified? God doesn't call anybody to do anything for him that's already qualified. Really? You thought you was that good, and because you were so good, God chose you? Oh, you wonderful self. You're so good. You know, you're a superstar in the body of Christ, just so awesome that this is why the Lord chose you because you pray and fast every other week. Glory to God. Oh, yah-yah, that's why God called you 'cause you "yah-yah" good. No, God didn't call you 'cause of that.

God used a David, a murderer, an adulterer, a peepin' Tom. God used Moses, selfish, murderer. God used the apostle Paul, religious, tryin' to keep all the law and tryin' to condemn and punish everybody that broke the law. That's why Paul did that. Paul did that because, you know, he was religious, zealous. He was zealous about his religion and about the law, and he intended on carrying that law out, and when he found anybody that was breakin' that law, he executed that like somebody made him God, and he had an experi... heh-heh, oh, my God, as much as he knew about God, one day, he met Jesus. One day, he met him, so he went from his knowledge from the Old Testament to sayin' that when he experienced this man that said, "Paul, Paul, Saul, Saul, why persecuteth me?" and that relationship begin to develop, hallelujah, and God, he couldn't see. Paul couldn't see no more, and then God called a man that Paul had been persecuting, and spoke to him because he had a relationship with him.

Oh, you hear me now. Listen to me. Listen to me. Because he had a relationship with Jesus, he said, "Go and find Paul, and lay hands on him, and his sight will be restored". Now, you know folks that's killin' folks and doin' stuff. You're like, "No, I ain't tryin' to do that. I ain't gon' forget what he did to my cousin down the street". Bobo and them weren't messin' with nobody. He came out of there and messin' with Bobo and them. I can't do that. You know, you've got to know him to be able to overcome the hurt and even the fear, the fear that, if you showed up, that Paul might kill you. You've got to know God.

You see, you can't pull out no little Scripture because God might say somethin' that you don't have a understandin' of the Scripture. Eventually, you'll find out it's in the book, but God might need you to do somethin' that, at the time, you didn't think he will lead you to do such as forgivin' somebody that robbed you, stole from you, and killed somebody in your family, and God'll use you to go and to deliver them. Are you ready for this relationship with God? Once you know him, nothing else matters. While you doggin' me, I'm eatin' a raw apple pie that I like. I don't care. Now I can be free to help other people to be delivered because I have been delivered from the clutter and the slander of other folks.
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