Thursday, March 07, 2019

Expect to Experience God's Presence

Redeemer sanctuary, inhabited by God's presence

Tim Curry and I are now doing most of the preaching at Redeemer. Josh Bentley is preaching, too. Last Sunday, while Linda and I were away, Josh preached. Our people are telling me God showed up and did beautiful things!

Before Tim, Josh, and I preach, we spend many hours studying the relevant biblical texts, writing down things God gives us to say, and praying through the whole thing multiple times.

This coming Sunday I am up. I'm preaching on "Revival and the Awakening of Desire." Today I'm going out with my sermon notes, reading them and praying them. When God speaks to me, I'll write it down.

When I do this I always sense God's presence. It will happen today. Sensing God's presence is normal, something I expect, more than ever.

Expectation is important. A. W. Tozer writes about the lack of it in churches.

"The word is rot. The church is afflicted by dry rot. This is best explained when the psychology of nonexpectation takes over and spiritual rigidity sets in, which is an inability to visualize anything better, a lack of desire for improvement." (Tozer, Rut, Rot, or Revival: The Problem of Change and Breaking Out of the Status Quo, p. 6.)

Sensing God's presence on Sunday mornings is our church's normal. As it should be. Dallas Willard writes:

"Beyond simple faith in God’s omnipresence, we sometimes have a vague but powerful sense, feeling or impression of God’s presence. We need considerable experience in order to learn how to accurately recognize this and assess the meanings of such impressions. Yet a sense of God’s presence is frequently verified through the judgment of several individual members of the group. Different people simultaneously sense that certain things are to be done— that God is here and is moving in that direction. 

This corporate sensing is a well-known phenomenon. Experienced ministers and laypersons frequently find they have synchronized their activities unerringly in a meeting or other form of service through their sense of God’s presence and what God intends for the particular occasion. It is something they come to expect and to rely upon." (Willard, Hearing God Through the Year: A 365-Day Devotional, p. 56). 

Jesus did not say,

Where two or three gather together in my name
I am with them in theory.

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

I'm working on:

How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation