"As we gather together (even online) to worship God on Sundays, we are not just gathering to have multiple individual devotional times in the same space," says Aidan Spencer. "He is present with His people when we’re gathered in a way that He isn’t when we’re scattered." Photo courtesy of Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church.
Is God really present in our times of worshipping together?
We live in a world where the ability and need to explain everything at times overwhelms our sense of wonderment at the mystery of God being present among us.
God’s presence is often linked to corporate worship in the Bible. It is a thread that runs throughout Scripture.
Truth, on repeat
From the very beginning, Adam and Eve are shown to be walking with God in worship, fulfilling the mandate to which they had been called. God was with them.
The tabernacle was instituted in the wilderness as a place of worshipping God and experiencing his presence.
Moses had an encounter with God at the burning bush. God’s presence was revealed to Moses. God spoke to him and commanded him to return to Egypt and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.
What was the purpose? So that they would worship Him, come to know Him and His presence, and that they would become His people. God’s presence was then revealed powerfully on Mount Sinai where the law was given to instruct God’s people on how He is to be worshipped. God was with them.
The tabernacle was instituted in the wilderness as a place of worshipping God and experiencing his presence. God was with them.
The Temple was built by Solomon to be a place of God’s presence amongst God’s people.
The expression of God’s gifts are a manifestation of Himself.
This was shown most strikingly at the inauguration of the temple when God’s glory fell and the priests were no longer able to minister. God was with them!
Now, we live after the coming of Jesus. The Word became flesh. Jesus chose to dwell among us. He lived and died and rose from the dead. His presence was with mankind. He then sent us another helper – the Holy Spirit – God’s presence in us (John 14).
His presence is with us so that we might be worshippers in Spirit and in Truth and that we might become the household of God, “built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). God is with us!
All can now experience His presence because we have access through our Great High Priest – Jesus (Hebrew 10:19-21).
Present with His people
God is especially present with His gathered people. He is present with His people when we’re gathered in a way that He isn’t when we’re scattered (Ephesians 2:22, 1 Corinthians 14:25-26; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; Hebrews 12:22-24).
As we gather together (even online) to worship God on Sundays, we are not just gathering to have multiple individual devotional times in the same space.
We acknowledge and respond to His presence among us through the various means of grace that He has provided.
Rather, we are approaching God as His people to acknowledge and respond to His presence among us through the various means of grace that He has provided.
What does this mean for us?
We should expect the living God to be present as we gather to worship together. One of the ways this happens is through the manifestations of gifts that God has granted us.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 speaks of the manifestation of the Spirit through the gifts for the common good of the church. The expression of God’s gifts are a manifestation of Himself.
Therefore, God reveals Himself through the warm welcome we receive, the ministry of the service leaders, the singing of worship songs, the preaching of the Word, the prayers brought before God, the sacrament of communion, and the encouraging fellowship of God’s people.
God is present among us and this should be cherished.
Embark on the search
We should seek to experience God’s presence for the purpose of our common good. Psalms 105:4 says: “Seek his presence continuously”.
Even though we know our omnipresent God is with us at all times, we are still called to seek His presence and believe that “he rewards those who seek him” in faith (Hebrews 11: 6).
A gathering where His presence is expected and sought after is a delightful place.
Let us gather with faith that God will reveal more of Himself to us.
Let us pray that God would manifest himself in great power through the expression of the gifts that He has given us and help us to long for his presence more and more.
O Holy Spirit, open our eyes and fill us with wonder.
This devotional was first posted here in 2019 by Redemption Hill Church and is republished with permission.
Reflection and Discussion
- How do you experience God’s presence? What do you cherish most about the moments when you feel Him close to you?
- Now that churches are reopening, are you looking forward to going back to your physical church service? Why or why not?
- How would you compare the worship experiences you’ve had in the house of the Lord versus online at home?
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