Friday, November 25, 2016

His Presence

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

                                                                                                    1 Peter 4:7-11.

What happens when a small group of people who love God and who love each other get together to thank God, to worship Him, to praise Him and to pray for one another?  Well, that's exactly what we all experienced Wednesday night.

I think that most people who attend HC on Wednesday nights would agree that something has changed lately.  It has not that I have become a better teacher or have stumbled on some secret to help people better know or experience God.  It is not that we have changed the format in some way.

I think it is truly a "God thing."  Isaiah 55:10-11 says:

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the
earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

I think that we are experiencing God's presence because the things we have been hearing and seeing in the Word of God over the past couple of years have begun to sink in with all of us.  I think we have become a group of people who increasingly are less self-interested, and increasingly are focused on God, His kingdom and other people. 

Peter says that we are to love each other deeply, and to use whatever gifts we have to serve one another.  I have come to think that this is not only a command from Jesus, but it is also a key to opening the door to God's manifest presence. 

As we saw a couple of weeks ago, the gift of the Holy Spirit is conditional on our obedience.  See John 14:15-16.  When we love God and obey His commands, then we need the Holy Spirit to teach us, to guide us, to comfort us and to encourage us.  We need the Holy Spirit to know how to pray for one another, and how to minister to one another.  And, I believe we saw the Holy Spirit doing exactly that Wednesday night. 

It was incredible to see my friend John lead worship, my friend Health lead Communion, and my friends Linda, Rhonda, Mike, Kerry and so many others praying for one another.  It was amazing to hear Cathey, Lamar and so many others tell stories of God's restoration, healing, freedom and power.  It was wonderful to see families praising God together.

For myself, I have been learning more and more that things go best on Wednesday nights when I do my best to get out of God's way.  But I am also learning that to really experience God's presence the entire body has to be engaged in what God is doing -- everyone has to be doing his or her part.  God is overjoyed when He sees His people love each other deeply.   That's God's vision for his church. 

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