God Came to Church: What He Emphasized?
If there was one theme that God kept bringing back to us repeatedly during the season in which the Lord poured out His Spirit, it was this: God wants full control of our lives and He wants full control of the church.
Some of the following passages were brought to our attention:
Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.
Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God which is your spiritual worship.
1 Cor. 6:19-20.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Some were puzzled as to what it meant to give God full control of their lives. I see it as primarily as this kind of attitude: “I belong to God. He has a right to all that I am and have. I am available to Him and am willing to be whatever He wants me to be, go wherever he wants me to go and do whatever He wants me to do.”
Concerning the church, giving him control meant, first and foremost, that we recognize that Jesus’ headship gives him the right to do with her whatever he wants. Practically, this meant that in decision making we were to ask the Lord for guidance and then wait and watch for his leading. This would give God the opportunity to direct us in everything from planning a worship service, to selecting workers to ordering curriculum. This required a major shift in thinking since most people are used to doing what seems best to them without consulting the Lord and waiting on him. He was calling us to take Proverbs 3:5-6 seriously:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Following the prompting of the Holy Spirit was another key to sustaining the move of God. For example, someone might have been compelled to give a testimony and that testimony would begin a series of events in the worship service.
I felt that it was critical to welcome divine interruptions in our services allowing for God to do whatever He wanted. Once there was an “interruption” or once God was emphasizing a particular truth, it was vital that we rode that wave as opposed to following the planned songs and order of service. Let’s be honest: few of us are comfortable with letting God be in control.
When God speaks, he is worth listening to and it requires an adjustment on our part to go the direction He is going. This can be difficult to do for a worship team as they may want to know ahead of time exactly what songs will be sung. It can also be challenging for the one leading the service. That person needs to balance paying attention to God’s leading while not forgetting the time, the offering, the announcements, etc. It is a delicate “tight rope” to walk.
The importance of obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit was reinforced a few years later.
Shortly after I started my Heart of Revival ministry I was scheduled to speak at the East Linn Christian Academy chapel service. When I woke up, I felt that God wanted me to change my message, which I did. Furthermore, on my way to the school I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to open the microphone at the end of my message and invite students to make a complete and public surrender to Him. This was a high-risk idea since I would feel rather foolish to do this and have no one respond, which was highly likely if God were not in it. I obeyed the prompting. At the end of my message I invited students to come to the microphone to make a public surrender or to pray for revival. About fifty young people came one by one. Their public testimonies ran clear through the next class period. They confessed sin, surrendered, exhorted and made requests. Many said that they would not normally speak publicly but felt compelled to come to the microphone. It was one more reminder that God can do amazing things when we listen to him, have courage to obey and risk looking foolish.
Copyright Ed Skipper 2013