EXPERIENCING HIS PRESENCE
By W. G. Guy
Many years ago when my wife and I relocated to Florida we searched for a church to attend. Visiting several churches for a period of time we became disappointed and gave up not being satisfied with any of those that we attended for a while. They each were sound in preaching the Word of God but something was lacking that just did not satisfy our longing.
After several weeks of listening to a certain preacher on the radio we decided to go to his church which was not in our preferred denominational search. The moment we walked inside we both felt the presence of the Lord which we never experienced at any other church. We knew it was His presence even though we never felt it before.
What was it that made this place different from all the rest of the churches? It was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly refers to this phenomena in the Book of Acts since this book tells of the work of Christ’s followers as they were empowered and led by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:4 – And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 4:8 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, …..
Acts 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Being “filled with the Holy Ghost” (the Holy Spirit) means the presence of the Lord was manifesting with them which empowered them to be living testimonies of the Christ. This is clearly lacking in most churches today as we found out in our search years ago.
It is possible to have church and assemble together without the Holy Spirit being present or manifesting in His display of power and witness. This means such a church is without the power needed to be the vibrant, power testimony of who Jesus Christ is and what He has provided. Yet this gift of God is available to all up until the return of Christ at the end of this age.
1 Corinthians 1:7 – so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
This gift is still valid today although most church denominations deny it; that is why we could not experience His presence in the churches we visited.
Acts 1:8 – But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:38-39 – Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Since most churches today lack this power, and many even deny its existence, they have become ineffective in their ministry. Thus the powers of darkness and workers of evil have been able to dominate society, all because the church no longer has to ability or willingness to be the witness and force for righteousness that they are supposed to be. The few churches that still maintain the work of the Holy Spirit excel in their ministry to change lives, but they are few and far between.
Consider the staffing and organization of these powerless churches; their deacon boards are not full of the Holy Ghost as is required. The following are references to appointing deacons to handle church business affairs:
Acts 6:3 – Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Acts 6:5 – And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost ….
Acts 7:55 – But he, (referring to Stephen) being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
The appointment of Paul to be an apostle required that he be filled with the Holy Spirit to equip him to do the work of the ministry. This also applied to others for their ministry:
Acts 9:17 – And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Acts 11:24 – (referring to Barnabas) For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Acts 13:9 – Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, …..
Acts 13:52 – And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
Obviously, being filled with the Holy Spirit means they were all baptized in the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost and continues unto this day for those who accept it. But the reference to being filled means that they were, at various times, focusing on who Jesus is and what He did resulting in periods of praise, joy and rejoicing in the Lord. They didn’t just walk around bristling in the power of the Holy Spirit, it was on the occasion that their focus was on the Lord with praise and thanksgiving as is mentioned in scripture.
Psalms 22:3 – But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Psalms 100:4 – Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
Ephesians 5:18-20 – And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
The key to understanding experiencing the presence of the Lord by His Holy Spirit is this: the presence of the Lord does not inhabit a building made of brick and mortar; His presence inhabits His people.
1 Corinthians 3:16 – Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19 – What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God.
When those Spirit filled people gather together to worship and praise the Lord, the Holy Spirit within them rises up in true spiritual worship to God and that is when His presence can actually be felt among His people. It’s not the building or location, it’s the people that are assembled that makes the manifestation of His presence able to be experienced. Oh that much more of this would be happening in more churches today.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is necessary for powerful ministry to be carried on today. It draws people in as they are curious at the manifestation:
Acts 2:1-21 – And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judæa, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Verses 19-21 above verify that this experience of Pentecost is valid right up through these last days until the return of Christ when we shall see the sun turned to darkness and the moon into blood and all the signs and wonders in heaven above.
Experiencing His presence is such a wonderful event and so desirable; too bad that most Christians do not experience it, but they can if only they would accept what the Bible tells us is available.
At this point I must add a warning; some churches appear to have a great move but discernment reveals that it is not the Holy Spirit. Churches having a large attendance where people show great enthusiasm are not really experiencing His presence; instead they are attracted by the entertainment. Please recognize that the presence of the Lord manifests primarily with true and pure worship and praise of God and Christ (John 4:24).
The church where we experienced His presence many years ago had itself changed after a few years and the people failed to recognize this change. As that church grew in numbers and affluence, it attracted a lot of attention. As a result it hired a professional entertainer to direct the choir and musical staff.
The previous music director relied on prayer and the Lord to direct the choir and music ministry which was truly anointed of the Lord and greatly showed forth the Lord’s presence. However, the professional director relied on his professional ability which was greatly entertaining and attracted even greater crowds, so much so that we used to say that this church was the greatest show in town – but His presence was no longer felt in the services – but human enthusiasm was. The people were no longer coming to worship and praise Him, they were now coming to be entertained and for the excitement that comes from stimulating music. It appeared that the Holy Spirit was dismissed and the flesh was trying to carry on without Him.
Heed this warning, the arm of flesh will fail you; do not confuse entertainment and enthusiasm for the manifestation of His presence. Human entertainment and enthusiasm is an empty shell while the manifestation of His presence is a life-giving power. So always seek the Lord so that you continually worship in Spirit and in Truth:
John 4:23-24 – But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in TRUTH.