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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where Am I, God?

Many of the people are staring blankly forward. They are not really engaged in what's going on. It is as if they are watching television. It keeps them occupied but they really have no part in the show. It fills their time. They will forget most of the show by the next day. Within a month they will watch a rerun of it and be just as mesmerized.

What are these people attending? The worship service at their church. They love the way the ushers march down the aisles. They love the burning candles and the stained glass windows. They feel good about attending. But overall, they are unaffected by what's going on.

Is this what worship should be? Should people expect to encounter the Almighty in worship? Should they expect to hear Him speak? Should they be so changed by His presence that they live differently after worship?

Yes, I beliieve we should. I believe that is the expectation. Worship is not merely telling God His worth but also being changed by His presence. Those who are not changed must have distanced themselves from God. They must have barriers which prevent them from being truly engaged in what's going on.

What could these barriers be? They center in a hell-bent desire to to what the selfish will of the person who has erected barriers to God. This selfishness veils itself so cleverly among mankind that those who employ it don't think God notices it either. They are wrong. He knows how close or how far hearts are to and from Him.

More than half of the people who attend church regularly say that they have not had en encounter with God. Yes, these are the people who participate with their attendance but are never engaged with their hearts. They don't even know that something is wrong. Too many others are just like them. Too many others are saying the same things they are. They think that church attendance is the end result. They do not see beyond it so that they will hunger for God's presence when they worship.

God is tired of it too. He wants people to join Him. He wants them to continually grow in His grace. He wants them to have true joy though they go through tragedies. He wants them to be victorious in life rather than victims of life.

The question each person should ask when they come to worship is: "Where am I, God?" It is a dangerous question. It may bring rebuke but the rebuke will only come because He loves you. It will only come because He wants you to know Him intimately.

The barriers must fall if we are to worship.

Isaiah 1:12-18 (ESV) 12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.


Anonymous said...

I was raised in a Presbyterian church.

Those were the days when people got dressed up for church and, quite frankly, to the child that I was, the dressing up seemed to me to be a major deal. My grandmother wore those foxes that are fastened together, looking like the foxes are biting each other's tails around her neck. All the women wore hats, the men suits. Of course.

The building was beautiful, the sanctuary had very high ceilings, red carpeting, magnificent stained glass windows, and a loud organ. It had an air of reverence and was kind of an awe-inspiring experience for a child.

But I'm not a child, anymore. The trappings of church are not enough to hold my heart, but I do get how a person can attend church there (I'm not saying that all Presbyterian churches are like that.) and not realize that they haven't really connected with God.

When my husband and I got married (at the grand age of 19yo), we began attending a Baptist church. chuckle. I had quite a culture shock! These people made noise during the sermon! :o

And I met God there. Salvation was preached every message. An altar call given at each close. We both walked that aisle in 1975. For me it was to the tune of "Just As I Am". :)

Here's what I don't get--how can you attend a Bible preaching church and NOT have a God experience? And if you don't, how can you not notice that? What exactly do people think that whole salvation ting is about, anyway? And why would you keep going if it never hits home?

That has always bewildered me.


Anonymous said...

I am more intrigued by Deb 's question than the general content of Ps Prentis' entry; but of course it is a good entry; recently, I used, too, that Isaiah text quoted at the end of the entry.

"How can you attend a Bible preaching church and not have a God experience?" - that was the question.  Why not? It depends on what you mean by Bible preaching, for example. It depends on what we mean by a God experience? It depends how open you are, and whether or not, the Holy Spirit wants to "force" Himself on you!?

Of course, I am not trying to "lecture" Deb or anything like that, but would like to comment, and so, write as the flow comes.  

Now, the 1st "depend" - concerning Bible preaching; which church would say she is not preaching from the Bible?  Which preacher or pastor would say he/she ain't preaching from the Bible. Now, if every church and every pastor is preaching the Bible, then the question of church not Bible preaching does not exist. Now, maybe preacher and pastor don't like this, but it is possible that there is mishandling of the Word; and God is not pleased (gun is pointing at the preacher, not the attendees). I am not saying that God boycotts the church the moment or every time, that happens - mishandling; it is possible that persistent mishandling of the Word, can lead to God not being pleased to dwell and manifest.  

I believe the church's core theologies must be sound, and if they are not, and because of persuasive words, the entire church buys into the heresies, that would be recipe for God's displeasure. Well, it is possible that God isn't dwelling and ministering, but the church thinks otherwise; self-delusion is all possible.  Scripture does have it, that under certain scenarios, people can be given to perverse mind.  

Of course, there is the possibility of wrath of God coming forth, but most people have been brain-washed that the positives (according to the person or the church) are from God/acts of God, the negatives (again, according to the person or church) are not from God/acts of God; meaning you have not, an experience/encounter with God, when it comes to the negative, when in actual fact, chastisement is part of God's way of loving His people and the church. 

Of course, God is long-suffering, and so, He could refrain from acting in the "negatives"; and so, even silence, is an experience with God.  I see it that way, silence can be an experience with God, can you see it being so?  If you don't, to you there is no experience, but to me, there  is.  Many people perceive that God isn't interacting with them at all, it is they perceive wrong.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

The second "depend" - what is meant by God experience.  Ps Prentis used "encounter with God".  The issue of perception comes in, for example, I talked about silence being an experience with God in the above para. I frequently get sensations on different parts of my body in worship or meditation before the Lord, is that experience with God or not?  Or is it that, we are limiting it to seeing God in person or hearing His still small voice! I feel that boxing in this regard does not help; rather we should be more open and encourage people to be more open; do not worry about the devil is giving the experience, so much.  This "devil is giving the experience" can be discerned and tested out.

The third "depend" - our openness.  People can come into church and not open to hearing the Word or not wanting to be humble before God, or they want to hold back, not wanting to let go of certain areas of their life to God; certain decisions they want to make themselves, and not wanting God to "intrude".  

Actually, many of us, treat God no different from men, in this regard - we selectively let people speak into certain aspects of our lives, but not into the other areas, and we do likewise, with God. We wall-up, the counsellors would say.  We are with volition, even as a believer, our volition is not taken away from us; it is we have to be willing to subject it to God - "it is, God, I am always willing".  And we cannot fool God; and God will test our heart. 

It is NOT norm that Holy Spirit will force His way through. God's action, principally is motivated by His holiness, wisdom, and love.  Because love is involved, forcing, is not a norm. Is it not generally true, when it forced, it is no longer love?!  God loves you, and would like you to love Him back, and when you do love Him, you will be willing to give of your volition. Our love for God matters; our attitude matters, even as God is gracious.

To experience more of God, come on His terms, not ours, it is all about Him, when it comes down to the final, final, analysis.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions