“Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind. It is written in the Scriptures: “I will speak to my own people through strange languages and through the lips of foreigners. But even then, they will not listen to me,” says the LORD. So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers. Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy. But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”” 1 Corinthians 14:20-25 NLT
Can we truthfully say in our church gatherings that God is among us? I understand that the Holy Spirit lives inside every truly born again believer and so we can say that God is certainly with us. (I Corinthians 6:19). However, there is a distinct difference between the indwelling presence of God and the manifest presence of God. Are we caught in a routine of religious ritual that is lifeless and absent of the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Do we suppose that our tradition and liturgy are, in and of themselves, the personification of God Himself?
Could it be that we have fulfilled 2 Timothy 3:5 where the Word of God states that the days will come when people will "...have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof?" Are we like the religious people of Acts 7 when Stephen, the Holy Spirit filled deacon/elder proclaimed ““You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!”
Acts of the Apostles 7:51 NLT. I submit to you that we must give control of the church back to the Holy Spirit and follow His direction. When the Holy Spirit is manifest among us, Jesus will be lifted up, the believer will be encouraged, the unbeliever will be challenged with the gospel, and the church will be empowered. Only when we get caught up in our zeal do we get out of order. The Holy Spirit is always in order! The issue isn't with the Holy Spirit. The issue is with His subjects. Humanly, we can get caught up in a certain practice that we assume this is the way it is to suppose to be and we want to impose either our unbridled zeal or our redundant liturgy on God. What we must do is pray for God's wisdom and discernment. When we seek His will and submit to His presence and power, the church will experience the manifest presence of God. We will then become the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Two things: First, we cannot allow our cold, lifeless rituals to replace the presence of God. Second, we must always be in submission to the Holy Spirit because He will always do what is just and proper.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, forgive us if we have resisted the Holy Spirit. Come, manifest yourself to your church as we humbly submit to you. We desire your presence. Without you we are powerless.
Rev. Curtis Norris