God’s presence or bust!

Victoria spoke last night at Manly Life on that great passage in Exodus where Moses says to God; “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

In the same passage God promises; “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

This is the ongoing story of God’s people through time – it is His presence in and through us that makes all the difference to all that we do. It should be what distinguishes us from all other people. Whether in the way we share good news, pray for the sick, act with compassion or meet together, it all counts for nothing if the presence of God is not with us. Some thoughts for us as individuals, churches and in our communities…

1. Personally we need to take seriously being the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Co 6:19). The same Spirit/power that conquered the grave now lives in us (Rom 8:11), the same Spirit of Jesus is now shaping our character (Gal 5:22-26), indeed the same Spirit cries out within us that we are the children of God (Rom 8:15-16). We live as children shaped by the presence in us!

2. As churches we are known for the presence of God dwelling in our midst. Just as the early church was filled with awe, miracles, signs and wonders (Acts 2:43), our meetings today are to be characterised by the presence of God. When someone comes to one of our services we owe them an encounter with the presence of God. Whether that be in a sense of peace and grace or in mighty demonstrations of God’s power – we are to be seekers of his presence with us!

3. In our community we are to be the visible carriers of God’s presence. Jesus promised after his resurrection that “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:20). Whatever we do in our communities, let it be characterised by Jesus being there with us. An act of mercy, a word of good news, an encouragement, a prayer of faith – may His presence go with us!

Theologically I believe that battle is over – the church has awoken to the need for the presence of God to manifest in our lives, in our churches, in our mission. “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And where we don’t see it yet, we keep seeking and praying. God don’t send us unless you are with us!

I am an apostle

Does a comment like that make you cringe? Should it?

Now mandatory disclaimer… I don’t think I am an Apostle (and am dealing with my weaknesses, sinfulness and pride like all the saints). But I do believe that I have the evidence for some of this gifting and as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:31 “eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

Who wouldn’t want to be involved in pioneering kingdom ministry and seeing heaven invade earth? You just have to accept that as Paul says, apostles will be treated like the refuse of the world.

Ephesians 2 says that the church, “God’s household” is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.  That is how it gets built. If we are not theological acrobats trying to argue that these gifts and the 5 fold roles found in Ephesians 4 are not in operation today… then we need to identify, equip and cheer on the people God has appointed and anointed for these roles!

I remember at my church in London there was a lady who seemed to bring along about half of the Alpha guests each course. She was a natural evangelist. Similarly my wife Victoria moves in the prophetic in amazing ways. When she prays for people I see her imparting God’s love and identity into people in supernatural ways. We need to cheer these people on and name them for what they are! This is Victoria – prophet, this is Michael – teacher, this is Stephen – evangelist, this is Sue – pastor, called by God to build His church.

I want to be in a church that honours! I want to be part of a church that ministers and governs according to the kingdom of God and not the laws of man. Law controls, grace releases. I cant wait to explore over the coming months and years what it means to be a part of a ministry team that sees the body of Christ built up, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. And it happens when the apostles, the prophets, the pastors, the teachers and the evangelists are honoured and released!

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