The presence of God and the Lordship of Jesus in meetings.
Posted by appolus on February 17, 2013
Brother Greg Gordon asked me earlier this week to come on and speak on a national prayer call called ” prayer surge” about my burden for the presence of God and the headship of the Lord as He is allowed His rightful place in meetings. Now I have to be honest, this is a subject that when I have shared that I have never failed to alienate some folks . These couple of subjects are like a mine-field because we really do not even have a working definition of what the presence of God is. And so before I speak about the Lord having His rightful place in meetings and how that actually ties in with the presence of God, let me define the term “ presence of God,’ as I see it and as I have experienced it and what I believe the Holy Spirit would say through me. I would like to start out by reading a letter I received from one of my readers and this would perhaps illustrate one of the reasons that I am involved with Gospel fellowship meetings and other meetings seeking to bring together what I would call remnant believers. And so the lady writes to me and says ………
“I have heard there was a time when you could go into a church and feel the presence of God. You would tiptoe in and cry at the altar and tiptoe out. You would talk about church all day and at bedtime. You would talk to your neighbors about the Lord. Does anyone know what I am talking about? Does your church have God’s presence there? When we witness to neighbors about the Lord, do we tell them about our church, do we tell them about the programs we offer? Do we tell them about our softball team or about our free cup or our free espresso from our Coffee Bar? Or, do we say, just come and you will meet God. Come to Him and He will reveal Himself to you if you will humble yourself .I was saved about 6 years ago, now I am in my mid 40s. I hear about the old days from all the grey headed ladies in church. I am hungry for God’s manifest presence and I need to know what to do about it. I pray, I confess, I do not live in any known sin, yet I stumble at times and the Holy Spirit convicts me and I immediately repent. I go to prayer meetings at church. I read my Bible, I talk about Jesus at work and try to get them to come to my, or any church. What are we doing wrong, or me? Is my church under judgment? Or our nation? Is there churches out there experiencing God where the Spirit is moving and people are confessing and their lives are being changed? They are living for Christ and dying to self and carrying their cross? Jesus, please show yourself.”
Now brothers and sisters, that is a heartbreaking letter for me. I cannot tell you how many people from all over the country and all over the world have shared this same story with me. I have had over 100,000 hits on my site from over 180 different countries and time and time again the story is the same. There is a famine of the presence of God and the Word spoken by the power of the Holy Spirit. God has been run out of countless churches by leaders who insist on building their own kingdoms and only want God to justify their ministries having forgotten that Jesus is our ministry. We live in a day where men seek faith, they seek miracles, they seek blessings, they seek peace and joy and contentment, they seek riches and yet the very center of the universe, the very center of everything that exists, the very center of who and what we believe is the person of Jesus, the risen Christ. In Genesis 15 when Abraham has just acquired great riches God reminds Abraham that “ I am your exceeding great reward.” Brothers and sisters, we can have everything in this world, but if we do not have the Lord walking in our midst with us, setting our hearts on fire with His presence and expounding and revealing the word to us then we have nothing.
Moses was not prepared to move forward unless the Lord went with them. Should our standard be any less? Is this not the crisis of our age, the lack of God’s presence in our midst? Should we not cancel every program if we do not have God in our midst? Listen to what one of my dear brother in Christ wrote to me describing his encounter with the presence of the Lord…………………
“I was overshadowed by the Presence of the Spirit of God. In that moment I felt His deep love rest upon me… an indescribable release and rapture in my spirit, accompanied by a peace and a joy unspeakable that only comes from the Holy Spirit…it felt as if my innocence was completely returned to me in that moment before God, and indeed it was, as the Blood of the Lamb was sprinkled over my sins. It was in that moment, while the Spirit of God was upon me, that I humbly looked up into heaven and I worshipped Him who made the Heavens and the Earth. It was in that moment that I decided that I would love the God of heaven forever…I decided this, and I told Him so. In that moment I understood the beauty of the Lord, His magnificence and His majesty; I felt my soul knit to the Lord. My soul loves Him above all else in this life, for He is my lot and my portion forever. In that moment I understood Him in the depths of my spirit; I cried out to the one who formed me from the dust of the Earth and I said to Him…I will love you in my heart forever! I made my abode with Him, and He came into my heart and He made His abode with me.”
Can you see how a genuine encounter with the presence of God changes everything; it ruins us for this world brothers and sisters. It drives us deeper into the Father’s arms, it drives us deeper into the word of God, and it causes us to walk in holiness and to walk the narrow path. In the presence of God we can shout and rejoice even in the midst of great tribulation, this is the test of the presence of God. If we are looking for some discernment in these days where every church and every movement may claim that the presence of God is moving in their midst then let us look and see what happens to a group of people faced with total destruction. For nowadays it seems that so many who claim and counterfeit the presence of God do so in concert with health and wealth and a God who as a sign of His favor only every pours out blessings so that they can live their best life now. In the OT when the children of God were taken into captivity, somewhere near the rivers of Babylon with Jerusalem destroyed and everything they ever knew and held dear was taken from them, their enemies gloated and goaded them somewhere down by the rivers of Babylon and said to them “let’s hear you songs of victory now, sorry can’t hear you.”
The children of Israel, it is recorded, hung their harps on the willow tree. They could not worship God because of their circumstances. They had lost their song in the night. Now, how much of modern day Christianity rests upon success either in the ministry or in the material world? Can I suggest to you that those who genuinely encounter God are not driven from God by circumstances but are simply propelled deeper into His arms when trouble comes. They experience Him and all His beauty and majesty all the more. Listen to what Tozer says and see if we cannot relate even more in this day of ours …………..
“We are a starved generation that has never seen the glory of God. We have men and woman in their 20s and 30s who have never seen the glory of God. They’re Christians, they’re in Bible schools, but they have never seen the glory of God. They have never known what it is to be in a service where the presence of God is so awe-inspiring that you can’t speak aloud. They have never heard God preached about so high and lifted up that they went home in silence and wouldn’t talk. When A.B.Simpson preached in Buffalo, New York, he preached on the glory of Jesus Christ and when he was finished , they dismissed the meeting and no one got out of their seats. They sat there because they were afraid to get up and walk around in the presence of God. But a whole generation of young people has never seen anything like that. “Oh God restore thy glory by whomsoever thout wilt restore thy glory.” (Tozer,Fellowship of the Burning Heart)
And so brothers and sisters you can see that this ties into Gospel fellowships. We want brothers and sisters from all over North America to establish fellowship with fellow, like-minded believers who are hungry to see God high and lifted up. Hungry to see His glory. Hungry to be in a place where the presence of God is so awe-inspiring that they can barely lift their heads because of the weight of His glory. Not a soulish pumped up crowd , not a generation of acquire the fire pumped up Christians who have been taught that to jump up and down or twirl is somehow equated with the freedom that comes in the presence of God. No, a hungry remnant. A people sold out to the Lord in spite of their circumstances. A people who love not their own lives unto death. Brother Greg and brother Brian Long and many of us have encountered these people everywhere we go. More often than naught, sheep without shepherds. We live in a day when there are storm clouds gathering on the horizon for Christians.
Persecution is coming soon enough and none of know just how rapidly this will unfold. It is vital for brothers and sisters to be connected to one another. It is vital that the presence of God is with us. It is vital that Jesus has the pre-eminence in our gatherings. It is vital that the Body functions as it was intended to function in the book of Acts. Not a one man show nor a spectator sport, but a Body of believers each with their gifts to be used to edify the Body. And so when the Lord is given His proper place then we discover that he becomes , our teacher , our giver of knowledge and He uses whom He pleases. He raises up elders and leaders based on their servant hearts. Men who are willing to serve and be sub-serviant to His leadings. He has never raised up men who were seeking to build their own kingdoms. He will not step down to justify a man’s ministry or a man’s church.
True freedom in our meetings comes by allowing the Lord to direct our meetings. Allowing the Lord to speak through who- ever He chooses. There will not be dis-order in this. We have directions from the Word to the Corinthian church how to keep order in the church. In this setting teachers can be identified, preachers and pastors and elders can be identified. And the Lord can speak through these men and He can put a song on the heart of anyone and suddenly He has now become our worship leader. Genuine leaders will want to equip and edify the Body, they will not want to promote themselves. And so to finish brothers and sisters, there is such a great hunger and thirst out there for the presence of God and for genuine fellowship based on the narrow walk.
The time is short, the enemy is coming in like a flood, and there is a greater need now to come together in fellowship because we see that the end approaches. We do not know how many more years genuinely biblical fellowships will be able to meet in buildings and in public. The cultural winds have shifted and the slide towards the great whore church is well under way. Now is the time to get ready.