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Archive for December, 2011

God not present?

Recently, during one of the sermons in a youth camp, the speaker gave an altar call for the congregation to respond. No one did. Not until he called for a third time before people started coming forward. The next few days, the youths were more open to the altar calls, but some felt that he was too forceful, and was preaching and ministering by human strength. People were saying, “I can’t feel God’s presence with this speaker”, or “I feel that he is not speaking from the Holy Spirit”. After much thought and reflection (as I was being ministered to in the camp too), here is my response to these issues.

I must say first that God’s presence is never limited- He is not limited to the kind of place you’re in, the people you are with, or even the pastor giving His Word. God chooses exactly when and where He wants to minister to His people. However, I believe that God prefers to make His presence felt in certain conditions. Let’s see what the Bible says about God’s presence:

Matthew 18:19-20
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Does the Bible say “only where there is an anointed pastor, there I will be?” or “only when the praise and worship is spirit-led, there I will be?”

Not at all! As long as two or three gather in God’s name, there He will be. You see, God loves being with people who are hungry and thirsty for Him. He loves making His presence felt when His children, gathered in His name, so strongly desire to know and see and hear from Him. From Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. God is found and His presence is felt when His children seek Him with all their hearts. There is no where in the Bible, and never has God said that His presence will only come when the pastor is Spirit-filled! The pastor does not bring God’s presence; instead, God’s presence is invited by the hearts of His children. So if you were to ask me about the sermon on the first night, I personally believe that the youths were not hungry for God enough- they were not expecting enough, and wanting enough to hear from God that night. When hearts are not open to God, it is no surprise that God’s presence cannot be felt. God will not force His way into lives which do not expect and desire Him.

With that, I want to personally encourage everyone to then, seek God with all your hearts. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is in us that He dwells. Therefore, God’s presence should not only be expected during youth camps, services, altar calls or congregational praise and worship. We should be expecting His presence in our lives every single day! In our personal worship and communication with Him, we should be feeling God’s presence surely and strongly. Of course, I believe that God does move more powerfully in camps and such, as that is when many are gathered in His name to seek Him. But that should not limit our connection with God through the Spirit. God gave each of us the Holy Spirit so that we may individually experience Him in our very personal ways.

What this means is that even if the praise and worship may not be spirit-led, or if the pastor is not speaking from the Spirit, we can still be ministered to. Yes, it is true that God uses these people to minister to us, but Christ has died for all, so that all may commune directly with God, and all may have the Holy Spirit in them. It is ultimately the Holy Spirit who ministers to us. Therefore I challenge all of you- that even when the music is bad, or the message is boring, you allow the Holy Spirit to still minister to you. Be still and prayerful as you seek to hear God speak into your heart. He is not limited by the pastor or the music team.

Now, what happens when “I feel that he is not speaking from the Holy Spirit”? First, we must examine our hearts prayerfully.

Sometimes our preliminary judgement prevent us from hearing what God has to tell us. When we start to judge the speaker in our hearts, we subconsciously make a decision that the speaker is boring/bad/not anointed, and we close our hearts to what he preaches. From then on, we start to judge every point that he makes, and try to identify flaws in his preaching so as to justify our decision reject his message. This is one thing that we should all watch out for, before we fall into the trap of pride and judging others, preventing the Holy Spirit from ministering to us.

When you feel that your heart is right, and you still feel troubled and not at peace, it may be that you have the gift of discernment, or have a spirit of discernment. The Holy Spirit may be prompting you, or perhaps even warning you about the things that you are hearing. Some of it may not be correct or true. In that case, do highlight it to your leaders or mentors, and don’t forget to check it up with the Bible on your own!

In the end, humans are always fallible and prone to make mistakes. God however, is not, and He can choose to minister to you in any situation. So do keep your heart open to hearing from Him. In our relationship with God, the most important thing isn’t ministry, leadership or serving. It is the relationship itself- that is what God treasures most, and what we should too.

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YPM Camp has just concluded and I am finally taking a good break. Oh, I’ve ORDed by the way, congrats to me! Then I’ll be going for a 3 month Bible course in Tung Ling Bible School, and I’m really looking forward to it! If you’re interested, here’s the link:http://www.tungling.org.sg/school-of-ministry/ I believe they take registrations until the very last minute.

I’ve chanced upon this link recently and thought I’d share it with you guys: http://theresurgence.com/2011/12/15/bet-you-cant-resist-the-temptation-to-watch-this

So many times we try to fight temptation and recurrent sins in our lives, but the battle is never against it. Christ has already won the battle over sin when He died on the cross, and as children of God, we too are victorious over it. The thing is, we were created to have some purpose, some sort of idol in our lives. We seek to fill our lives with things that are fulfilling. That’s why we indulge in material possessions, sexual sins, and perhaps even ministry in church. These are the wrong idols to fill our lives with, because they will never be as satisfying as a true and direct relationship with God.

Only when our lives are so fulfilled by the presence and love of God that all other things of the Earth will fade. They will no longer be attractive to us compared to the beautiful connection that we can have with God. So fighting temptation is not about resisting the attraction, it’s about fulfilling our thirst for purpose with something transcendent, perfect, and lovely- God.

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