Do we go to church to be taught a religious lesson . . . or to encounter and surrender to God’s presence? A listening mind can learn lessons about God; but it takes a hungry heart to head wholeheartedly into His holy presence. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)
The real God wants to release His real power and His real presence through real people in real churches! Are we real enough to let Him?
When I read about the early church in the Book of Acts (and the history of the early days of The Salvation Army), it seems to me like God never intended for church members to be sitting spectators but rather influential instigators who stir things up and bring forth the presence and power of God!
I just saw part of a sermon about the holiness and glory of God. It was good, well presented information. However, it seems to me that it would be far more effective if, instead of telling us about God’s glory, the speaker would lead us to encounter the actual presence and glory of God. One manifestation of the genuine presence and holiness of God would teach far more about it than all the sermons in the world can teach about it. This is not just theory. It happened to Isaiah in chapter 6 of his book (and that was in the Old Testament). In the New Testament, Paul put it this way: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Recently a first time visitor at The Salvation Army Berry Street began to share in tears. He said that he was out drinking last night and that God woke him up this morning and told him to come to church at Berry Street. He said that he wasn’t doing very well since he lost his 36 year-old son a year or so ago. We asked if he would like to have prayer and he said yes, so he came forward and received a few hugs and a group gathered around him and prayed. It touched everybody present in a moving way! Then near the end of the meeting, this man began to pray out loud and to thank God for helping him and for leading him to church. And he asked God’s blessing on all of us.