God's dwelling place with man

How do we recognize God’s presence?

Wind in trees
Photo credit: antgirl (Creative Commons)

Recently, God has spoken very specifically to Tony and me from the book of Haggai. His prophecy, “I am with you, says the Lord” was enough to get the Israelites to resume the work of building the temple after a 20 year hiatus.

Those of us in organic/simple church believe that the simplest and most basic building block of the church comes from the verse, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) Jesus among us is church.

As Robert Fitts says:

“When two or three true, born-again believers come together in His name, Jesus is in the midst. Jesus in the midst is church! It is a different experience than Jesus within. We cannot experience Jesus in the midst when we are alone. We can only experience Jesus in the midst when we are in company with others–at least one or two others.

But is it church in the fullest sense of the word? Yes, it is church in the fullest sense of the world. It is the basic church. You can have more than two or three and it is still a church but it does not become “more church” because there are more than two or three. It only becomes a bigger church. (Saturation Church Planting)

Theologically we hold to this truth, that Jesus is with us when we come together in his name.  But do we experience this as a reality?

So I’ve been asking God the question, “How do we recognize your presence in our midst?”

When Jesus and Nicodemus talked together about being born again, Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to the wind. You cannot see the wind; you just hear it.  If you look outside you can see the effects of a breeze on the trees.

Many people seek a personal sense of God’s presence through spiritual feelings when they come together  But what the Lord seemed to say is that we will know he is present with us when we see the effects of his Holy Spirit being with us.

His presence in our midst looks like Rosaura finding the Lord and being set free from drugs and alcohol. It looks like the Lord answering Jose’s prayers. It looks like a Hindu family coming to know Jesus. It looks like a person being instantly set free from crippling worries and anxieties. It looks like marriages being restored. It looks like the incredible sense of community we have together. It looks like new daughter and grand-daughter groups forming.

How do you know God’s presence in your midst?

4 replies on “How do we recognize God’s presence?”

Aha! moment 🙂 Thank you for demystifying it, Felicity!! You’re right, it’s rarely “spiritual feelings”. Recently here in our corner of the world, Jesus’ presence looks like loving our “enemies”, bringing the healing of entrenched family tensions. It should be a happier Thanksgiving this year 🙂

I know Felicity’s post deserves much more than one comment – so here goes.
I like her question, “How do we recognize your presence in our midst?” And along with it is another, similar question, “How do I recognise your presence in my life?”
I and we, me and us, parallel but different. Perhaps most of us rarely ask either question.
Here’s my partial answer. We recognise his presence by the fruit of his Spirit. No fruit? He’s not present. Abundant fruit? He’s abundantly present. Paul listed out the nature of this fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness and self-control.
Are those nine things within you and expressed in your daily life? Know he is in your heart.
Are they present among you and expressed when you meet? Know he is in your community.
Surely this fruit of the Spirit is the effect he has as he flows through us and amongst us.
And the typical results are in Felicity’s penultimate paragraph. His presence looks like people finding, being set free, answering, coming, being restored. In a word, new and deeper life.
Come Lord Jesus. Amen and HalleluYah!
Can you see these effects in this story of simple gathering? –

Janet and Chris, great comments. Janet, I love what Jesus’ presence looks like with you.
Chris, I’ve been very struck recently by a verse from John 4:35-38 where Jesus describes fruit as being a harvest of people brought to eternal life. Both are obviously true and I like your idea of the one fruit leading to the other.

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