Two weekends ago I ministered in a very well known renewal church in the southern part of the US. The building is big and beautiful and the worship was both passionate and, from a technical standpoint, excellent. We experienced authentic moves of the Holy Spirit during both the worship and the ministry times. The pastor informed me several days later they would be videoing several people who experienced significant healings.
Tonight, I have just returned from a welfare type of hotel in a inner city which has suffered financial downsizing and decay through out much of the city. Instead of hundreds of mainly middle class people who passionately love God there were less than fifty people, the majority of whom struggled with very serious issues, ranging from severe health problems to poverty level incomes to substance addictions. Instead of worship leaders who are of professional ability tonight the worship was led by an acoustic guitar player who along with a lone female accompanist struggled to maintain momentum. Except for a couple of the faster songs there was little visible passion in worship and the atmosphere seemed so lackluster in comparison.
However, (and this is a huge however) the Spirit of the Living God showed up tonight just as He had two weeks ago. And although things seemed so different outwardly (with both the building and the people) God was attracted to the worship of the people tonight just as He was two weeks ago. The Holy Spirit performed several healings of backs, legs, feet, and stomachs some of which were truly amazing!
The faith level and the praises dramatically escalated as people realized what God had just done for some of the people- most of the small church knew them well. At that moment no one, myself included, would have rather been anywhere else in the world than there- where the Holy Spirit was touching lives and bodies and giving beauty for ashes and praise replacing strongholds of discouragement (Isaiah 61.3).
I have felt for years that the most under utilized resource in the contemporary church is the Person of the Holy Spirit. By that I do not simply mean that the spiritual gifts are not appreciated and sought after by many. Rather that the awesomeness of who God is and His transforming Presence are too often neither very appreciated nor hungered after. Usually the Holy Spirit is simply viewed as the messenger and/or the deliveryman of Jesus. While it is true He does disclose to us the things of Jesus the greater truth is that He is the Presence of God Almighty in our very lives and our very midst as we gather in Jesus’ Name. He is the Immanuel- God with us! And when He shows up with just a bit of His manifest glory it doesn’t matter whether one is in a dilapidated inner city hotel, a big beautiful modern church building, or a stable. It’s the only place you really want to be- simply because the wonder of God’s Presence changes everything.
“For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” Psalm 36.9