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08/06/2014

What's Next? (Part 4)

For a church to be healthy, it needs the Bible at its heart – we need to honour God's Word and take it seriously, allowing it to shape us. It's a means for interacting with God, just like the Law was in the Old Testament.

We see through the accounts in Exodus 18-23 that, as well as the Law, the Israelites also had God dwelling in the middle of the camp. Their encounters with God weren't limited to a fireworks show at the top of the mountain; God desired to dwell right at the centre of their camp.

Making space for God's presence was serious stuff: there are 15 chapters of instructions on what this tabernacle dwelling place would be like and 22,000 people were involved in following them! The whole tribe of Levites was set aside to be responsible for set up, pack down, guarding the tabernacle and all of the practical things that needed to be done. Imagine the rotas required to make it work!

The presence of God was a priority for God's people then and it must be for us now. The Israelites didn't create the dwelling place of God accidentally; it was intentional. Everyday life centred around it. It's what marked them out from every other people group (see Exodus 33:16). It wasn't merely a bonus feature – it was the very foundation of their identity.

And it's the same for us today. Church isn't church unless God's dwelling in us. The Bible says: "In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:22) We are individuals from different backgrounds being built into the Church to become a dwelling place for God.

"The gathered church is meant to be a place where the presence of the Holy Spirit is evident; you can't miss him if he is manifest!" – Terry Virgo

We are now the tabernacle where God lives. This is immense and so much better than the Old Testament experience. God's presence is no longer limited to one time or place. God lives in the midst of His people – Jesus' death and resurrection didn't just deal with your sin and give you entry into heaven; it has also cleaned you up so that the Holy Spirit can live in you!

The tabernacle was something special, but it's nothing compared to the Church! We are designed to be the dwelling place of God. That's what makes the Church unique from any other organisation on the face of the planet. The Church was never designed to operate in the self-sufficiency of men and women's abilities; we were designed to operate led and empowered by the Holy Spirit!

We need both truth and fire – to understand the great doctrines of the Bible and to experience the power of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul both raised the dead and wrote the letter to the Romans. One of Jesus' last commands to His disciples was to wait for power. If we're going to see fruit – if we're going to bold, see healing and miraculous works, pastor well, be convicted of sin, have words of knowledge and wisdom, be more peaceful and kind and full of joy, experience emotional healing, hear God's prophetic direction, endure hardships – for all of these things we need the same power the Apostle Paul had, that same power that raised Jesus from the dead and is now part of our inheritance.

Are you thirsty to encounter God?

One step you can take straight away today is signing up for the Encounter day on Saturday 21 June.

Download the audio of this preach and the life application questions here.

Paul Mann

Posted by Paul Mann
19:35


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