I’m in the midst of preparing for preaching this coming Sunday at Covenant Life Church. I’ll be speaking on Pursuing God’s Presence, which is also the message I’ll be giving at the WorshipGod06 conference next week. It will be great to have a "dry run" at home before the conference.
This is a message that has been on my heart to give for a number of years. I’ve been stirred as I ‘ve realized again how eager God is to reveal Himself to us in evident ways as we meet to worship Him. Our faith isn’t merely academic or mental. We serve a living God who is actively present among His people. Without in any way minimizing how God is present with us through preaching, the Lord’s supper, singing, and other ways, I hope to raise our expectations for how God wants to reveal His presence to us through His varied gifts.
It’s no coincidence that the book of the Bible that most frequently addresses God’s active presence through spiritual gifts is written to a church that abused them significantly. The Corinthians were disorderly, took spiritual pride in the gifts, and seemed to focus excessively in their practice. None of those abuses, however, should keep us from trying to understand from Scripture what our attitudes, expectations and response should be to the Holy Spirit as He apportions his gifts of grace “to each one individually as he wills.”
A couple quotes I’ve come across are worth sharing. This from D.A. Carson:
“We must desire to know more of God’s presence in our lives, and pray for a display of unleashed, reforming, revivifying power among us, dreading all steps that aim to domesticate God. But such prayer and hunger must always be tempered with joyful submission to the constraints of biblical discipline.” (Showing the Spirit, p. 188)
And this from Gordon Fee:
A genuine recapturing of Paul’s perspective will not isolate the Spirit in such a way that Spiritual gifts and Spirit phenomena take pride of place in the church, resulting in churches that are either charismatic or otherwise. Rather, a genuine recapturing of Paul’s perspective will cause the church to be more vitally Trinitarian, not only in its theology but in its life and spirituality as well. This will mean not the exaltation of the Spirit but the exaltation of God; and it will mean focus not on the Spirit as such but on the Son, crucified and risen, Savior and Lord of all. (Paul, The Spirit, and the People of God, p. 188)
Those two quotes sum up what I hope to be the effect of this message – a greater longing for the Spirit’s evident working as we meet, resulting in the exaltation of our matchless Savior, all for the glory of the Father.
I’d appreciate your prayers as I prepare.