“Let’s invite God to come today….Come on worship team, lead us to God’s presence…We want Him to really show up.”
All of us who are Spirit-filled hear and say such phrases regularly. If we consider such sayings theologically, there may be a problem in light of God’s truth. “Where two or three have gathered in my name I AM THERE” (Matthew 18:20). “He has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:8). “If you come to Me I will not get rid of you” (John 6:37). “I will not cast out the one who comes to me” (John 6:37). “No one can snatch My sheep out of My hand” (John 10:29). “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Under the old covenant, people had to “enter” the presence of God due to sin but now we are “in Christ.” Under the old covenant God’s presence dwelt in the tabernacle and temple. Under the new covenant, His people are His temple in whom He dwells (Hebrews 3:6). When we gather with others in Jesus’ name He said, “I am in your midst” (Matthew 18:20). While we are exhorted to “labor to enter into God’s rests” (Hebrews 4:11), this doesn’t mean laboring to enter God’s presence.
Many times, in corporate gatherings we are encouraged to “press in, to enter His presence” and it can seem more like the prophets of Baal “jumping…calling out with a loud voice…cutting themselves” trying to get their god to come and respond to their “worship” (1 Kings 18:21-27).
Stay with me on this as I make a point. I understand that there is the reality of God’s truth alongside the reality of our feelings and experiences and God’s word reveals both. Many of the Psalms along with other verses identify, many times with lament, what the writer feels or is going through. “Why are you standing so far away, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself?” (Psalms 10:1). “Will you hid Yourself forever?” (Psalms 89:46). “How long will You forget me?”(Psalms 13:1). These were very real experiences and feelings people had.
Now we are in Christ, and while we may feel and think things in our current experiences, it is okay to express them, but it should lead us to come back to His truth, which is forever established.
Most of the time, when we feel distant and/or have a fresh awakening by Holy Spirit, it is more like what happened to Jacob as He was running from Esau and had the dream, indicating it was God’s house, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it…this is the house of God” (Genesis 28:15-17).
We are not trying to jump through all kinds of religious hoops to convince God to manifest His presence, it is usually us becoming aware of Him who is already there and moving with Him in what He is doing. “The manifestations of the Holy Spirit which are given to everyone to benefit all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Becoming aware of God and moving with Him is essential for our everyday mission.
Jesus said over and over that the essential key to Him moving in God’s power was that He “did and said what He saw His Father doing and saying” as “God anointed Him with Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38).
- John 5:16-30…”My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working… “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner…(30) “I can do nothing on My own initiative. (John 6:37-38, 8:26-32, 9:32-33, 12:45-50, 14:9-10).
When it comes to our everyday mission, if we are always waiting for “God to show up or move” it can reveal a subtle paradigm problem. It is a wrong paradigm that believes that God is absent in the normal state of our life and His creation. He only comes once in a while to do stuff. If we are not careful, saying “God showed up” denies that God is always present and at work.
The problem we face is not God’s presence at work, but our perception of Him.
Joining Jesus on mission isn’t about doing missions, evangelism, or outreach FOR JESUS but WITH HIM, joining Him as He is working. It is recognizing where Jesus is working and joining Him there.
Five Practices that help us discern the where Holy Spirit is at work in the world.
How do we know if something is of God or not? Practices that can help us discern where Holy Spirit is working.
1. Stay active and sensitive by both prayer in your personal time and prayer while on mission.
- Luke 5:16 But Jesus would often go to some place where he could be alone and pray.
- John 4:35 “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
We have personal time with God as well as continue to connect with Him as we engage with people. It is not one to the exclusion of the other. We have prayer closet time but also “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is how Jesus lived.
During Peter’s rooftop prayer time, God gave him the vision that led to a connection with Cornelius’ household (Acts 10:9-48). While God was speaking to Peter God was also speaking to Cornelius. Both Peter and Cornelius followed what God was revealing during their prayers and the rest is history.
2. Be fully engaged with God and people at the same time, noticing what Holy Spirit may be highlighting or saying.
When Jesus engaged the Samaritan woman at the well, He became aware of something God highlighted about her living with a man who wasn’t her husband. This was a key that opened the door for further activity. It may be phrases you hear, pictures you see, or something you notice God highlighting which enables you to respond. Listen to what God may be saying and notice what He may be doing.
3. Take a step with what God is showing you.
Jesus became aware of the revelation of the woman and the well’s situation and took a step in asking, “Go call your husband” (John 4). We don’t know if Jesus knew everything God was going to do but as He took a step more revelation came of where she was at and what God wanted to do. The Bible says “we know and prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:1-6), and when we take a step with the part, more is often revealed.
There are 57 times in the book of Acts when activity is attributed to Holy Spirit. Rather than looking to execute a complete strategy that we know completely just take the next step. You move forward and see things differently. When you take a step, isn’t always to the complete destination but to get you to a place to find or see other aspects of your destination.
When we take a step, we dethrone ourselves (I can figure it all out) and move forward with God.
4. Seek God every day for His heart towards people. Several times the Bible reveals that Jesus felt compassion towards people which led to Holy Spirit-inspired actions in the harvest.
Matthew 9:36-38 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (37) Then He *said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. (38) “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Mat 9:36, 15:32-39; Mar 6:34, 8:1-2, 9:22; Luk 7:13, 19:41; Joh 11:33-35;
As we pray for and feel God’s compassion towards people we encounter we can be sure that the steps we take will have God’s anointing on them.
5. Move in faith based on God’s unchanging word that “He is always working.”
- Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them
- Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.
Seek to put these things into practice. God is at work every day as the song “Waymaker” aptly proclaims, so lets look to see what He is doing, “Even when I don’t see it You’re Working, You never stop, You never stop working.”