“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. ” –Matthew 22:2-3
In the Bible (Matthew 22), we can read Jesus’ “Parable of the Wedding Banquet.” In it, he tells of a king who invites friends to a wedding banquet, but they make ridiculous excuses for why they cannot come. Eventually the king invites everyone in the kingdom, not just the chosen few.
The question we’re supposed to ask when we’re reading this text is why would somebody not go to that wedding? Why would someone make an excuse not to attend the most fun, exciting, interesting, joy-filled, expensive celebration ever? How would anyone make an excuse not to attend?
Do you know what Jesus is saying in that parable? He’s saying that this banquet is going on right now. This festival is going on right now. It’s the kingdom of God. It’s the fullness, the joy, the life, the flourishing of the ongoing pervasive presence of God all around us that is available right now in Him, Jesus Christ.
I think that what he’s saying is that many of us, especially those who have grown up religious, are refusing to attend even through we’re invited every single day. That, like the Pharisees, it is so easy to get caught up in the monotonous humdrum, busy, day-in-and-day-out things of life that we forget completely that today is important and special and valuable – an extraordinary gift from God.
It’s so easy to be caught up in paying bills and driving through traffic and checking our e-mails that we forget that today is a special, wonderful gift from God. We forget that the festival, the banquet of the kingdom of God is happening right now and we’re invited. We are!
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your kingdom here on earth. Help me to remember each day as I rise that I’m invited to your banquet of life. Amen.
Devotion: What do you do each morning as you arise? How might you better greet the day as one might enter an exciting event hosted by the Lord, himself?
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” -Galatians 6:1
I want to talk about legalism in the church.
The way in which religious people abused scripture in Jesus’ day was primarily by the Pharisees. Today, it’s pastors and other believers who oftentimes do this. Some people use either religious tradition or the most important book in human history, the greatest gift to civilization, the Bible, to hurt and harm and oppress people.
So, if you can say, “I am the kind of person who has been burned by mean people with Bibles in their hands,” I want to say to you that you have come to the right place today. I want to speak to you, in particular. I want to speak to the person who has either grown up with parents, or experienced a spouse, a church, or an environment where you’ve been harmed by the misuse of scripture. It may have affected your emotions, making you a more anxious or angry or judgmental person.
Scripture is not meant to do that to people. Scripture is meant to affirm, build up, direct, encourage, and love.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your words to us. They are a love letter to your children. When someone uses your words for harm, I will not be swayed from your grace and care for me. Amen.
Reflection: Have you ever been hurt by someone who was misusing God‘s word?
Geoff and Christine are thirty-something churchgoers who love Jesus and love their three kids. They consider themselves faithful members of New Life Community Church.
Their oldest is about to be in the youth group, and their youngest is finally out of diapers. Christine has been involved in the kids’ ministry through the years. Geoff is a deacon.
But they are part-timers when it comes to church attendance, and they never set out to be.
They are not alone.
Recent statistics show that an increasing number of evangelicals who are firm in their faith are flabby in their practice of actually gathering with their brothers and sisters in worship. It’s the part-time syndrome, and it can sneak up on any of us.
Let’s go back to Geoff and Christine. There are 52 Sundays a year, and last year, they attended a worship gathering on 28 of those Sundays. (That’s an average of about twice a month.) What happened?
Vacation: To maximize his allotted days, Geoff took the family to the mountains during the kids’ spring break, stretching over two weekends (one of which happened to be Easter!). There was the summer beach vacation, another stretch of a week and two weekends, and then a fall getaway. Total = 5 Sundays.
Sports: Their oldest son is on a travel soccer team. Many of the games are on weekends, and they believe it would be a better testimony to be among unbelievers on Sunday mornings rather than let down the team. Total = 9 Sundays.
Sickness: With their youngest child going to preschool, the family seems more susceptible to illnesses than before, and sickness always seems to hit on the weekends. Total = 3 Sundays.
Guest Preacher: When Pastor Jon is out of town, Geoff and Christine usually take the weekend off. They never like the guest speaker as much as Pastor Jon. Total = 3 Sundays.
Visiting In-Laws: Christine’s parents come twice a year to spend the weekend with the family. To maximize their time, they usually spend the weekends catching up and doing some shopping. Total = 2 Sundays.
Holiday: Thanksgiving weekend, and the week in between Christmas and New Year’s, the family is traveling. Total = 2 Sundays.
Geoff and Christine may be a fictional couple, but their situation is true for many of us. Recently, a church leader told me their most faithful attendees are only in church 2-3 times a month. They basically expect churchgoers to be “hit or miss” every week.
Now, there are two wrong ways church leaders might address this issue. The first is to go all Hebrews 10 on everyone and emphasize the importance of the worship gathering, so as to whip people into shape and guilt them into church attendance. Sorry, but this isn’t a gospel-centered approach.
We should never take the command of Hebrews 10 about neglecting the church and isolate it from the preceding verses (about the privilege of coming before God in a community of faith that holds to a confession of hope). That’s giving the imperative (“Go to church!”) without the indicative (“You are welcomed into the throne room of grace with your family in Christ.”).
This approach also stresses church as a place we go, rather than church as the people with whom we gather. It reinforces the idea that the church is a building and leads people to think holiness happens by being present every week.
Lastly, this method could cause people to have a checklist mentality, where we pat themselves on the back for being in church 48 weeks a year, while neglecting other important matters – like justice and love. Churchgoing isn’t necessarily a sign of spiritual health. How many times do you think the Pharisees were absent from the temple?
Danger #2 – Avoid the Issue
The second danger is to be so concerned with the first that we fail to address the imperative in Hebrews 10 at all. In doing so, we ignore the importance of the church as the family of Christ, the people with whom we are to gather and hear the gospel.
Because of our strong distaste for legalistic checklists, we might minimize the counterfeit gods that creep into our lives and vie for our free time. In the desire to avoid legalism, we never mention that a ball can become a Ba’al for some, or that leisure and comfort can become idols that keep us from worshipping the true God with other believers.
In an effort to not guilt people into church attendance, we never make people aware of the fact that graceis presented week after week. Guilt is the result of not going to church – not because you feel bad for not living up to God’s expectations, but because you’re not hearing the message of gospel grace pounded into you week after week.
A renewed vision of worship
The best way to respond is not with guilt or with a false grace, but with the reminder of the purpose of worship. You aren’t there to fill up at the gas station (after all, you can get some sort of spiritual sustenance by reading or listening to your preacher’s podcasts apart from the body of Christ). This is a distorted view of the purpose of gathering.
The author of Hebrews clues us in. Being with your brothers and sisters is where you are able to stir one another up to love and good deeds. It’s the place where the confession of hope is celebrated and put before you and where you are urged to cling to it tightly.
It’s not the content you receive every week that is so formative; it’s the actof being together and making the Lord’s family your priority. It’s similar to a family to eats every night together at the table. The value is not in the specifics of your conversation, but the very act of demonstrating your love for each other.
We don’t go to church because of guilt. We are the church because of grace.
That’s what Geoff and Christine, along with you and I, need to remember.
The passage which is to be before us has long been the subject of controversy. Its authenticity has been questioned even by godly men. John 7:53 to 8:11 is not found in a number of the most important of the ancient manuscripts. The R.V. places a question mark against this passage. Personally I have not the slightest doubt but that it forms a part of the inspired Word of God, and that for the following reasons:
First, if the passage was a spurious one, then we should have to pass straight from John 7:52 to 8:12. Let the reader try this, and note the effect; and then let him go back to John 7:52 and read straight through to John 8:14. Which seems the more natural and reads the more smoothly?
Second, if we omit the first eleven verses of John 8 and start the chapter with verse 12, several questions will rise unavoidably and prove very difficult to answer satisfactorily. For example: “Then spoke Jesus” — when? What simple and satisfactory answer can be found in the second part of John 7? But give John 8:1-11 its proper place, and the answer is, Immediately after the interruption recorded in verse 3. “Then spoke Jesus again to them” (verse 12) — unto whom? Go back to the second half of John 7 and see if it furnishes any decisive answer. But give John 8:2 a place, and all is simple and plain. Again in verse 13 we read, “The Pharisees therefore said unto him”: this was in the temple (verse 20). But how came the Pharisees there? John 7:45 shows them elsewhere. But bring in John 8:1-11 and this difficulty vanishes, for John 8:2 shows that this was the day following.
In the third place, the contents of John 8:1-11 are in full accord with the evident design of this section of the Gospel. The method followed in these chapters is most significant. In each instance we find the Holy Spirit records some striking incident in our Lord’s life, which serves to introduce and illustrate the teaching which follows it. In John 8:12 Christ declares, “I am the light of the world,” and the first eleven verses supply us with a most striking illustration and solemn demonstration of the power of that “light.” Thus it may be seen that there is an indissoluble link between the incident recorded in John 8:1-11 and the teaching of our Lord immediately following.
Adapted from The Exposition of the Gospel of John, Chapter 28, by A.W. Pink.
Christians have as many views about drinking alcohol as there aredenominations, but the Bible is abundantly clear on one thing: Drunkenness is a serious sin.Wine was the common drink in ancient times. Some Bible scholars believe the drinking water in the Middle East was unreliable, often polluted or containing harmful microbes. The alcohol in wine would kill such bacteria.While some experts claim wine in Bible times had a lower alcohol content than today’s wine or that people diluted wine with water, several cases of drunkenness are cited in Scripture.
Bad Consequences of Intoxication
From the first book of the Old Testament onward, people who got drunk are condemned as examples of behavior to avoid. In every instance, a bad consequence resulted. Noah is the earliest mention (Genesis 9:21), followed by Nabal, Uriah the Hittite, Elah, Ben-hadad, Belshazzar, and people in Corinth.Verses that denounce drunkenness say it leads to other moral lapses, such as sexual immorality and laziness. Further, drunkenness clouds the mind and makes it impossible to worship God and act in a respectable manner:
Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21, NIV)
Even so, ample evidence exists that Jesus Christ drank wine. In fact, his first miracle, performed at a wedding feast at Cana, was turning ordinary water into wine.According to the writer of Hebrews, Jesus did not sin by drinking wine or at any other time:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, NIV)
The Pharisees, trying to smear Jesus’ reputation, said of him:
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ (Luke 7:34, NIV)
Since drinking wine was a national custom in Israel and the Pharisees themselves drank wine, it was not drinking wine they objected to but drunkenness. As usual, their accusations against Jesus were false.
In the Jewish tradition, Jesus and his disciples drank wine at the Last Supper, which was a Passover seder. Some denominations argue that Jesus cannot be used as an example, since Passover and the Cana wedding were special celebrations, in which drinking wine was part of the ceremony.
However, it was Jesus himself who instituted the Lord’s Supper on that Thursday before he was crucified, incorporating wine into the sacrament. Today most Christian churches continue to use wine in their communion service. Some use nonalcoholic grape juice.
The Bible does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol but leaves that choice up to the individual.Opponents argue against drinking by citing the destructive effects of alcohol addiction, such as divorce, job loss, traffic accidents, breakup of families, and destruction of the addict’s health.
One of the most dangerous elements of drinking alcohol is setting a bad example for other believers or leading them astray. The Apostle Paul, especially, cautions Christians to act responsibly so as not to be a bad influence on less mature believers:
Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. (Titus 1:7, NIV)
As with other issues not specifically spelled out in Scripture, the decision whether to drink alcohol is something each person must wrestle with on their own, consulting the Bible and taking the matter to God in prayer.
In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Paul sets down the principle we should use in such cases:
“Everything is permissible”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (NIV)
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack’s Bio Page.
After many years of full-time evangelism and meeting tens of thousands of people from 10 major denominations, I have pinpointed the main reasons why there is a shortage or a drought of spiritual rain and spiritual manifestations in many churches.
Any spiritual gift must operate through a human vessel; it does not supernaturally float through the atmosphere in some mystical type of fog. The need for a human vessel brings me to the first common reason for lack of gifts: They have been neglected by the vessels (people) themselves.
The gifts can be neglected. In Greek the word for neglect means to be careless, make light of, or have no regard for. We will neglect what is not important to us. Just as a muscle on the body that is never used will, if neglected, eventually cease to do what it was created for, then spiritual gifts can be neglected and thus deactivated. The danger is that something can be neglected for so long that eventually you will not miss it. To prevent being neglected, the gifts must be “stirred up” (see 2 Tim. 1:6-7).
To stir up is to rekindle a fire with the remaining embers. All it takes are a few burning embers and some fuel to cause flames to leap again and burn brightly. If people neglect spiritual gifts and allow the flames of zeal and desire to die, then there will be a dearth in the operation of gifts. God works through people, which leads to the second reason gifts have appeared to cease: people cease to flow in the Spirit.
When the clear voice of the Spirit becomes muffled in the spirit of a person and there is no clarity that the Lord is speaking, then the person says, “Is this the Lord directing me, or is this just me?”
The Holy Spirit will never tell you to function outside of the boundaries of the Bible, so judge what you hear by what is revealed in the Word. Do you think the adversary would tell you to go and witness to a man sitting on a park bench? Should you question if it is the Lord or just you to give a poor person a meal to eat or some money? God’s voice agrees with His Word, and the Holy Spirit always agrees with God.
On a more humorous note, a few times when God could not find a person to speak, He used what was available—including animals! The prophet Balaam was stubborn, ignoring God’s will, so God opened the mouth of his donkey to rebuke him. The odd part is that instead of realizing the supernatural element of a talking animal, Balaam began to argue with the dumb beast (Num. 22:25-30). In the New Testament a rooster crowed three times, and Peter came under conviction and repented for denying the Lord (Mark 14:72). God will use whom and what is available to enact His purposes and lay out His will.
The third reason gifts can be neglected is that if these manifestations are not permitted by the leadership in the local congregations, then the members are to be under their leaders’ authority and follow the instruction of those who are over them in the Lord (1 Thes. 5:12-13).
A person who believes in the gifts should avoid sitting in a congregation where gifts are publicly discouraged and rejected and then attempt to use them. This brings confusion.
The fourth and very common reason that gifts cannot operate is because of the atmosphere of unbelief and skepticism in the church. I remember showing a “Christian” man, a church member for more than 50 years, certain verses in the Bible that crushed his theology of unbelief. He looked at me and said, “I don’t care what the Bible says; I don’t believe it, and I will believe it my way!” I was thinking at that moment that I had officially met a Pharisee of Pharisees, as this was the same attitude as the elite Jewish Pharisees in the time of Christ—“if it doesn’t fit my theology, it’s not of God.”
The fifth observation is that gifts cannot operate when people have no knowledge of their availability. In America Christians often assume that about everyone born in America has already heard the gospel at least once, which is a total misconception. Among full gospel people many assume that everyone sitting in a full gospel church has heard of or experienced the infilling of the Spirit based upon Acts 2:4. This is also a misconception.
According to the apostle Paul, we are to “covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31, KJV). I believe the best gift is what is needed at the particular moment to meet the spiritual need of the seeker.
When desiring a spiritual gift, we must keep in mind that the gift is not given to show that we are more superior to others or more spiritual, and certainly must not be operated with pride. The gifts are for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the church, and to assist in ministering to the unsaved, revealing the living God.
We are presently living in the church age, or prophetically the four months from Pentecost to Trumpets. In Israel as one got closer to the fall Feast of Trumpets, the atmosphere began to change as the rain prepared to fall. As we move closer to the coming of Christ, the world will be engulfed in the latter rain outpouring of the Spirit! The dry spells will be broken.
Adapted from The Code of the Holy Spirit by Perry Stone, copyright 2013, published by Charisma House. Whether you’ve been taught a doctrine, embarked on your own study of Scripture, observed others operating under the Holy Spirit’s power, or had a personal life-changing experience, this insightful book will give you a deeper understanding of this member of the Godhead than you’ve ever had before. To order your copy, click here.
PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 7/15/2013
This week ask God to make you a vessel through which His gifts can operate. Study His Word to see what He has made available and build up your faith by declaring its Truth. Ask the Lord to connect you to those who believe Him to do what He’s promised and who by faith allow the Holy Spirit to use them however He desires. Thank Him for what He is going to do through you to reveal the living God to the unsaved, exhort and comfort the church, and bring Him glory. Continue to pray for revival that brings repentance and a harvest of souls. Remember Israel, the persecuted church and those in authority over us. 1 Cor. 12:31, 2 Tim. 1:6-7, 2 Chron 7:14
For decades, maybe centuries, the church has gathered weekly around a sermon. Our reasons are noble: We value the Scriptures and know that our lives are to be anchored in truth. But the study of the Scriptures is meant to launch us into an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.
In that moment of connection, we obtain life. Without encountering the One to whom Scriptures point, we are a people to be pitied. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
Nearly every leader wants revival in one way or another, and many want healings, deliverances and miracles. But it’s hard to have the same fruit as the early church when we value a book they didn’t have above the Holy Spirit they did have.
That statement is not intended to get us to put less value on Scripture. That would be a great mistake. I simply point to the fact that without the Holy Spirit, the Bible is a closed book. The Bible was written in such a way that only those in relationship with God have ongoing access to its mysteries. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see truth. Jesus is the truth we long to understand. Jesus Christ is perfect theology.
The church camps around the sermon; Israel camped around the presence. Learning to recognize, treasure and carry this presence is at the heart of the Christian life. Recalibrating our hearts to this supreme value affects everything.
I don’t know any leader who would deny that our greatest treasure is God’s presence. Yet to camp around the presence of God in our personal lives, as well as in our corporate gatherings, means He is the reference point for all that is said and done—something like due north to the compass. God’s presence may be central in theory for many of us, but it is time for it to also become so in practice. It must be measurable.
We know instinctively that our encounter with God is what changed us. For some, it was a “road to Damascus” experience—extreme and hard to miss. For others it was much more subtle, like the internal realization of God upon them that made repentance possible. At that point, they were forever changed. We owe the people we serve an encounter with God, and for that to be a consistent outcome of our ministries, we must be full of the Holy Spirit. Fullness is measured in overflow.
Many have stopped short of a divine encounter because they were satisfied with good theology. I became painfully aware of this truth in 1987 when I attended a John WimberSigns and Wonders Conference. Of the many conferences I had attended through the years, this was the only time every teaching I heard was one I had already taught. Even some of the illustrations were the same as mine. It was eerie. I left somewhat discouraged, as I became aware that I had good theology, but they had fruit for what they believed. People were set free just as when Jesus ministered here on earth. Painful as that lesson was, I discovered I had to learn to put a demand on what I believed. Encounters with God were essential. Living a lifestyle of risk would be required to get me where I wanted to go.
Cultivating Awareness of God
The cultivated awareness of His presence is vital. To be truly effective, this awareness should be learned when there is no ministry. It is to be developed in the context of relationship, not performance/ministry. What we learn when no one is watching will qualify us to lead His people when everyone is watching.
Too many cry out to God for gifts, breakthrough in meetings and fruitfulness in evangelistic campaigns, but show little zeal for the Holy Spirit outside of ministry. He is to be encountered, experienced, known, followed and affectionately embraced. To show passion for God only in ministry is professional intimacy. And we have a name for those who are intimate as a profession.
Consider Jesus’ times on the mountaintop alone. The Father declared before Jesus had done anything: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). He had already found pleasure in the heart of His Father outside of the context of ministry. We have the same opportunity to capture the heart of the Father just because of our delight in who He is. The ministry that comes out of His acceptance is far greater than the ministry that works for His acceptance. Love serves from favor, not for favor.
The Dove That Remained
When Jesus was baptized in water, John the Baptist said, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him”(John 1:32). The Holy Spirit, Himself, who inspired the Scriptures, described His relationship with the Son and the Son’s relationship with Him with these words, “And He remained upon Him.” This is significant because it implies that there was never any reason for the Holy Spirit to withdraw from Jesus.
We know that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. But it’s my conviction that He doesn’t always rest upon us. Jesus wants us to know how to be a people upon whom the Holy Spirit will rest continually. I put it this way to our people: “He is in me for my sake. But He’s upon me for yours.” The Spirit of God rests upon a person (both in the Old or New Testament) to impact that person’s surroundings.
“And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove” (Mark 1:10, emphasis added). The phrase, “the heavens were parting,” employs the same word used to describe the tearing of the veil of the temple and the splitting of rocks around Jerusalem, both in response to the death of Christ (see Matt. 27:51).
What happened at Jesus’ baptism was a violent act, not a passive wispy parting of clouds. It is the initial answer to Isaiah’s prayer, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!” (Is. 64:1). The heavens were torn open at Jesus’ baptism, and the Holy Spirit came down. When the Holy Spirit was released upon the church in Acts 2, it was equally a testimony to that open heaven.
The heavens are open! For the believer, most closed heavens are between the ears. We were born again into open heavens and cannot afford to think otherwise. We make a mistake whenever we think that the oppression over our city is over us as well. It isn’t. When we think non-biblically, the enemy becomes empowered by our
unbelief. But a believing church, one that camps around the presence of God, will always help to define the nature of the world that they live in.
While open heavens may not yet cover our cities, we do not usually get increase in kingdom realities if we ignore or abuse what we’ve been given. For example, we generally don’t receive an increase of favor or finances unless we have been faithful with what we’ve been given. So it is with open heavens. What exists over me can exist over my city through faithfulness and radical obedience. It’s time to train the church to steward our greatest treasure: Holy Spirit—the evidence of an open heaven. When we treasure the Spirit, more will come.
As the church learns to live with an awareness of God’s presence upon us, we influence the atmosphere of the world around us, not only through our witness, but also through our presence. We broker the reality we are most aware of into our surroundings. Jesus modeled this after being awakened by His disciples in a life-threatening storm. He stilled the storm with a rebuke and the declaration of “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39). What enabled Him to sleep in the storm also calmed the storm when it was released from Him—peace. His internal reality became His external reality.
The Jesus Lifestyle
Jesus lived under an open heaven. No power could come between the Father and the Holy Spirit upon Him. What was provided for Jesus is also provided for us. He set the stage for a lifestyle that was to be manifested globally by those who follow Him.
The impact of both the open heavens and the presence of the dove upon Him became evident quite quickly. A woman noticed something intangible, something without definition. Her sickness drove her to the desperate act of touching a man in public, though she was “unclean.” In desperation, she touched His clothing and became well (see Matt. 9:20).
Jesus never taught about this secret to the miraculous, either before or after her miracle. Obeying a command did not heal her. She simply noticed the ways of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus and cooperated. The grace environment that surrounded Jesus invited people to explore. She was healed when she responded to an opportunity that no one else could see. However, once she experienced her miracle, her story spread.
By the time we get to the end of Mark 6, everyone who touched Him was made well. Even then, He never taught on the subject. He just lived as an open invitation for all to seek the One who desired to be found.
This adds an interesting insight to the possible effect of every believer who desires to live as Jesus did. The Holy Spirit upon us is accessible by others. People were healed as Peter’s shadow passed by. Our shadow always releases whatever overshadows us. Peter had learned to host Him well.
Pay the Price
To claim that the treasure of His manifest presence has priority over everything else must become evident in the price I am willing to pay to give Him honor, while maintaining such presence. While the Spirit was given without measure, what we possess is often different from what is in our account. We have the measure of presence that we are willing to jealously guard.
We must place the manifest presence of the Lord in our non-negotiable column. It’s hard to know whether the presence of God is really a priority until, to protect it, I’ve suffered the misunderstanding, ridicule and rejection that come with the territory.