I was recently reading over Psalm 103 and verse 7 really made me think about the fact that Moses knew the ways of God, while the Israelites only got to see His acts.
Moses chose to personally know God. The Israelites however, prone to worshiping idols, complaining and thinking only of themselves, never really knew God the way Moses did.
So the question is: do you want to be a ‘Moses’ or an ‘Israel’? Do you want to know His ways or just see His actions? I, for one, want to know God personally.
In our collective worship moments, Alisha and I define a difference between the omnipresence of God and the manifest presence of God. One means He is everywhere (including within us), the other means that we know, see or have a sense that He has revealed something of Himself, His nature or an expression of His love to us – at that moment.
The Bible says that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is. So why then don’t we always know or feel or sense that He is with us when we come together in church?
Well, I want to give you three statements that I think might have an impact on that:
- What we do individually as the church, can impact what we experience collectively as the church.
- How we live outside of coming to church, will impact that we receive when we are in church.
- What you and I do individually alone, affects what “we” can do corporately, together.
There is a difference between the presence of God that lives within us and the presence of God that comes upon us. Sometimes we miss the manifest presence because we simply don’t know that’s what it was; we fail to recognize God’s ‘outpouring’ in the collective because we’re not taking time to allow Him into the ‘personal’.
The reality is many of us go to a church meeting expecting to get what we want from someone at church – instead of bringing what we have to church and believing we’ll get what we need FROM God.
Imagine if we committed to a deeper lifestyle of personal worship; knowing God more for ourselves so that when we met collectively it would be the greater sum of all that God is doing in our lives AND the outpouring ON our lives.
Sometimes we think we have to wait until we get to church, but God is far more personal than that. He wants to be with you in the moments when all hell breaks loose and it’s not even Monday lunch time!
Equally as much, He wants you to come to church with a broken heart, BUT expect to see it restored. Or, come to church with burdens and concerns over your finances or your family, BUT believe that God will move on your behalf and everything will work out. He wants you to come to church knowing you’ve totally blown it AND you let Him heal your heart, renew your mind and wash you from top to bottom, inside and out.
Psalm 23 says that He will prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies, so why wouldn’t you want to put Him first and let Him work on your behalf?
The point is – He’s a personal God before He’s a collective God. HE DOESN’T LIVE AT CHURCH – HE LIVES IN YOUR HEART.
I’d like to leave you with 21 questions that have been adapted from a book called “Decisions that Define Us”, by some friends who pastor in Vacaville, CA.
- We decided that teaching the gospel without demonstrating the gospel is not enough. Good preaching, good doctrine, and being good people is not enough.
- We decided that having a good church club is not enough, good fellowship is not enough, and just being a member of that club is not enough.
- We decided that having good Bible studies is good, but not good enough, that just making it to heaven is not our goal, and that knowing about God without truly knowing and experiencing God is meaningless.
- We decided that having good programs is not enough, that change without transformation is intolerable, and that staying where we are is not an option.
- We decided that gifting without character is futile.
- We decided that singing songs without worshiping is empty, and having meetings without God showing up is pointless.
- We decided that having faith without works is not enough and having works without love is not acceptable that our function comes out of our relationship first with the Father and second with each other.
- We decided that reading about the book of Acts without living the book of Acts is unthinkable.
- We decided that confident faith is good and bold faith is better.
- We decided that hearing about the Holy Spirit without experiencing Him is silly, that believing in His presence without seeing it manifested in signs and wonders is hypocrisy, that believing in healing without seeing people healed is absurd, and that believing in deliverance without people being delivered is absolutely ridiculous.
- We decided to be Holy Spirit filled, Holy Spirit led, and Holy Spirit empowered-anything less doesn’t work for us.
- We decided to be the ones telling the stories of God’s power-not the ones hearing about them.
- We decided that living saved but not supernatural is living below our privilege and short of what Christ died for.
- We decided that we are a battleship not a cruise ship, an army not an audience, Special Forces not spectators, missionaries not club members.
- We decided to value both pioneers and settlers: pioneers to expand our territory and settlers to build on those territories. But we are not squatters, people who take up space others have fought for without improving it.
- We decided to be infectious instead of innocuous, contagious instead of quarantined, deadly instead of benign.
- We decided to be radical lovers and outrageous givers.
- We decided that we are a mission station and not a museum.
- We decided that it is better to fail while reaching for the impossible that God has planned for us than to succeed, settling for less.
- We decided that nothing short of His Kingdom coming and His will being done in our world as it is in heaven will satisfy.
- We decided that we will not be satisfied until our world cries out, “Those who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).
What would that collective look like?
Photo by: Emmanuel Phaeton