Years ago I was extremely blessed with an all-expenses paid trip to Saudi Arabia for two months! The whole thing was courtesy of the United States Air Force! The truth is that this assignment literally changed my life!
We worked 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week. We enjoyed one day off per week. Shortly after I arrived, I discovered that an international worship service was held just outside the city of Riyadh, not too far from the Hotel in which we stayed. The really, really neat thing was that this service was held on the very same day of my assigned day off!
The service was held in someone's apartment, in a large company compound. In Saudi Arabia at the time there were large living compounds established by the various oil and airline companies. These compounds were like small towns that housed various company employees. People from all over the world lived in these compounds. As a result, the worship service was truly an international meeting. I met people from India, Pakistan, Britain, Germany, the U.S., and other nations of the world. The service was conducted in English, but everyone spoke with an accent. It was very cool! Again, this was in someone's rather large apartment.
We arrived at our first service in time to meet some new friends and hang out with them. But it was the actual service that changed my life.
When the service started, the leader of the group broke out into song while playing the acoustic guitar. That was it. No more singers nor musicians. The worship was amazing. Just the sight and sound of all these folks from different parts of the planet stirred my heart immensely. The people sang and sang and sang. They worshiped openly. There was no rush to "get through the music" to the rest of the service. There were times when we were simply silent before the Lord. Words of prophecy came forth. Gifts of the Holy Spirit were manifested. Truly it was a life-changing experience for me.
As I was pondering this experience early this morning something significant occurred to me: When people are rushed in, and rushed out, they never experience the life-changing presence of the Holy Spirit. This produces a gathering that is mostly devoid of His presence. We all, out of love for the God who has forgiven us, want to honor Him, bless Him, and do what we can for Him. I believe almost every truly born again believer feels this way. But we must realize that without His tangible presence, the gathering is mostly man-made. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to come into our midst and glorify Jesus. So in our planning, we must plan for Him. In our rehearsals we must plan for Him. In our preaching, we must plan for the presence of the Holy Spirit! Jesus said, "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:14, Underline added.)
I do believe we should be somewhat time conscious in planning and conducting our services. But we should be more Holy Spirit conscious, so that when He desires to move spontaneously we have given Him the place to do so. Never forget, He can do more in just a few seconds when allowed, than we could ever plan or calculate to do in our concrete time-slots!
This experience occurred a good many years ago. But, as I said, it changed my life. As a result of that one single experience, God led me to become a worship leader, psalmist, pastor, teacher, and missionary pastor. More on that in a later post!
Next, I will talk about making a place for Him. He always comes where He is welcomed, and that is the difference.