|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|EXPERIENCING GOD IN THE CHURCH
Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King
I AM REVEALED
May 12 2013
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.
GOD’S ACTIVITY IN THE CHURCH
When I was speaking once at a church, a young girl came to the front to pray during the altar call. No one from the
congregation joined her, so I went over and stood beside her. I discovered she was praying for the salvation of her nine-
year-old friend. It was a special and tender moment for me to hear her intercede for her friend.
That evening, I extended another altar call at the close of my sermon and noticed this same girl walk down the aisle with
another little girl in tow. Sure enough, her friend was declaring her decision to become a Christian. At the close of the
service, the pastor began to do what he always did – announce the girl’s decision and ask the church to formally vote
her into membership upon her baptism. I couldn’t help myself! I spoke up and said, “Pastor! You’re hiding the activity
of God from your people!” Then I recounted for the congregation what had happened.
That morning, God had clearly spoken to the little girl about her friend’s need for salvation. She had walked to the front
of that imposing church auditorium and prayed for her friend. Then she had gone home and invited her friend to come
back to the evening service with her. Now, just a few hours later, we were witnessing the miracle of someone’s eternal
salvation. Yet the congregation was responding by merely taking a formal, routine vote for someone to be added to the
church roll. That pastor began to weep and to ask his people to forgive him. He realized he had been practicing religion
but had not been helping his people recognize God’s activity in their midst. God was powerfully working in the lives of
some of that church’s youngest members, and no one seemed to notice. As the congregation began to watch for God’s
activity in their midst, a completely new, exciting dynamic grew up within the church.
God created the church to be unlike any other human organization. It is a living body, created by Christ (see Matthew
16:18), and Christ is its Head (see Colossians 1:18). Through the church, God intends to extend His kingdom
throughout the earth. God’s activity in the church, therefore, is crucial to every believer. It is essential that every
Christian be an active member of a local church.
You’ll notice that in Scripture, almost every mention of the church refers to a local congregation. Every congregation is
important to Christ, and each one has a particular assignment from the Lord. The Scriptures tell us how believers ought
to act toward one another.
What do you notice as you read these Scriptures? Being a member of the church is a selfless act! The church does not
merely exist for what you get out of it. It is your opportunity to invest in the lives of God’s people and to join God’s
activity through His people. God knew that your church needed you. That’s why God added you to that body (see I
Corinthians 12:18). Your involvement is part of the equipping of your church to carry out God’s purposes.
Have you considered why God added you to the church He did? Are you functioning in that role?
We’ve already discussed hearing God speak through the church. However, I want to challenge you that as you seek to
join God in His activity around you, one of the first places you should look is in your own congregation. At first glance,
you may not see anything in your church that looks like divine activity. So you may need to ask the Holy Spirit to help
you recognize what He is doing.
When I served as a pastor, one of the most important things I did was to help my people recognize when God was at
work in our midst. At small or informal meetings, I often asked what the members had witnessed of God’s activity that
week. University students would tell how God had opened opportunities to share their faith with fellow students.
Business people told about God’s activity in the work place. Mothers would relate how God led them to establish a
group of Christian mothers to pray for the public school. Seniors recounted how God led them to intercede for someone
during the week. These informal times of sharing became wonderful opportunities to celebrate together God’s activity in
GOD WORKS DURING A TIME OF SHARING
Every time we gathered as a church body, we watched to see what God would do. Sometimes it was at the close of the
service when people would respond publicly to what God had called them to do. During our prayer meetings and
evening service, we often invited people to share what God was saying to them.
One Sunday evening, a college student stood up during a sharing time and told the congregation God had been
pursuing him and that he realized he needed to give his life to Christ and to follow Him in baptism. We stopped the
service right then, and I asked the church to affirm him and receive him into our fellowship immediately. Then, seeing
that God was at work that evening in a powerful way, I asked if there were others who sensed God wanted them to do
something and who were ready to yield to His lordship right then. Person after person rose to tell how they were
prepared to respond to what God asked of them. The service lasted for more than two hours, and many people made
significant spiritual decisions. I never even preached the sermon I had prepared! Yet everyone sensed God had
worked in a powerful way when we adjusted our service to His activity in our midst.
ONE HURTING PERSON
First Corinthians 12:26 indicates church bodies should be so united that if one member suffers, the rest of the
congregation shares the pain. For churches to function this way, people must learn sensitivity to God’s activity in the
lives of other members. At times, God alerts one church member to what He is doing in another’s life.
When I was a pastor, we had a beloved older couple in our church. One fall, the husband, Arthur, passed away leaving
his wife, Marion, a widow. Marion was a petite, gracious, and humble woman from England who was mortified at the
thought she might be a burden to her church family. She was especially worried that she would be unable to care for
her house and yard now that her husband was gone. Yet she dreaded asking for help. So she prayed diligently.
Richard was a university student at the time, and one Sunday evening he entered the auditorium early and sat down to
wait for the service to start. He glanced around as the auditorium was filling up and noticed Mrs. Clark sitting on the
other side of the room. Richard thought to himself, “I wonder who cares for her yard now that Mr. Clark is gone?”
Suddenly, he felt God asking him to go and find out the answer right then. Richard went to Mrs. Clark and said, “I was
just wondering who is going to take care of your yard this year.” Mrs. Clark’s eyes filled with tears, and she struggled to
keep her composure. “No one,” she replied. Richard offered to stop by on the following Saturday to see what he could
do. Mrs. Clark’s relief was evident.
The next Saturday, when Richard arrived at Mrs. Clark’s house, the yard was in shambles! He spent most of the day
collecting fallen tree branches, raking leaves, and mowing the grass. As he was finishing up, he spied Mrs. Clark with a
handful of money she intended to give him for his labor, but he adamantly refused. He explained that God had clearly
told him to do what he had done and that it would be wrong for him to take her money when she had so little. “But”
Richard added, “I do know you are a great baker. Any time you are baking something, it would be great if you wanted to
make a little extra for me.”
The next day when Richard entered the church foyer, he was met by the aroma of fresh baking. Mrs. Clark was waiting
for him with two large bags filled with baked goods for him! This became a weekly tradition. My son mowed Mrs. Clark’s
lawn and returned with an armload of mouth-watering baked items.
Who would ever have thought a college student and an elderly widow could become special friends? God would. He
designed the church for people of all ages and levels of spiritual maturity. He wants church members to be so closely
aligned that when a senior citizen is hurting, a college student in the congregation will sense the burden and meet the
You need to prepare yourself before going to church so you’re ready to join God in whatever work He may be doing in
your congregation. Too often, church members attend services and merely seek out their friends. It never dawns on
them that people may be there who are experiencing tremendous pain and hurt. There may be first-time visitors without
anyone to offer even a greeting.
The Holy Spirit can guide you to someone who is hurting if you are sensitive to His leading. Perhaps as you enter the
auditorium, the Holy Spirit will prompt you to sit in a different place than you normally do in order to talk with someone
who needs encouragement at the close of the service. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to a visitor, and welcome that
person to your church. The Spirit may encourage you to pray regularly for the single parent sitting in front of you who
seems deeply moved by the sermon that day. Maybe the Spirit will inspire you to approach a teenager after the service
to encourage him by saying you’ll pray for him. Every week, the Spirit knows who is hurting or who is seeking answers
from God or who desperately needs to know if God’s people care. If you’re sensitive to the Spirit’s nudging, you can be
God’s instrument of healing and love right in your own church family.
WATCH AND PRAY!
I mentioned earlier that my home church has a special time in the worship service when people are invited to the front of
the auditorium to pray during the pastoral prayer. The pastor always tells us to close our eyes and bow our heads. I
prefer instead to do what Jesus commanded His disciples – to watch and pray! I feel this could be a key time to see if
there are hurting people around me. It is tragic that every Sunday people in our churches suffer terribly, but no one else
is even aware of their pain.
One Sunday, I noticed a distinguished elderly woman who seemed downcast. During the prayer time, I slipped out of my
seat and went over to her. I asked if there was anything I could do for her as she seemed quite sad that morning. She
told me it was the one-year anniversary of the death of her husband and that this day had been extremely hard for her.
She was not sure she could handle the grief. I asked if I could pray for her, and she readily accepted my offer.
I’ve prayed for many people over the years, but this one surprised me. I found myself asking God to do things in this
dear woman’s life I had never thought to ask for anyone before. I recognized that the Holy Spirit was helping me ask
things that were on God’s heart to provide for this woman (see Romans 8:26). When I finished, she smiled and with a
sense of peace told me she knew she would be all right.
Several weeks later was a holiday season. I know that recent widows and widowers have a particularly difficult time
during the first holidays they spend without their spouses. Again I noticed the woman sitting near my wife and me, and
again I slipped over to ask how she was doing. She smiled and said the Lord had been good to her and that she was
doing very well. Whenever my wife and I are at our church now, we watch for this woman and try to encourage her. God
has ministered to her in a special way.
On any given Sunday, there are numerous people in my congregation who are hurting and who long for assurance that
God knows and cares about what they’re going through. It has been my joy to enter church on Sunday with a prayer to
God that I am available for the Spirit to lead me to the one who needs encouragement that day. How exciting this has
made Sundays for me! I never know what God might ask me to do as I not only worship Him but serve Him among His
Scripture exhorts believers to “carry one another’s burden; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
God’s Word also says, “So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of
faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
Too many Christians have developed a self-centered attitude toward their church. They look upon church as something
that exists to meet their needs and to deliver entertaining services each week. However, Jesus said we must deny
ourselves (see Matthew 16:24). Our desire should not be that we are always ministered to but that we follow Jesus
wherever He leads us. Rather than focusing on what our church is doing for us, we ought to be asking what God is
seeking to do in our church through us.
A MEN’S MINISTRY
A businessman once told me he had grown disenchanted with his church. This man wanted to participate in a vibrant
men’s ministry to help him grow and to be accountable, but there was no such ministry in his church, and the staff had
no immediate plans to begin one. “Should I leave my church and find one that believes in ministering to men?” he
asked. I reminded him that God adds members to the body as it pleases Him (see I Corinthians 12:18), and I
suggested that if God added him to a church without a men’s ministry, maybe God intended to begin one through him.
This man was a successful businessman and had always been a leader. Why not offer those skills for the Lord’s service
and let God use him to make a positive difference in his church?
The man, half reluctantly, went to the staff of his church and told them he was willing to organize a men’s event for the
church. The staff told him they, too, sensed a need for such a ministry, but they had needed someone to spearhead it.
At the first event, men in his church came out of the woodwork to attend! It was such a tremendous success, everyone
asked what they were going to do next. The numbers consistently grew until this man saw hundreds of men actively
participating in this new ministry. Eventually, other churches contacted this man to ask if he could help them begin a
men’s work also.
He hosted several city-wide events, and men from across the city felt the impact. The man was overcome by how God
had used his life to so dramatically impact people. He came to realize that when he sensed a need in his life, it was not
so he could complain about it and abandon his church. It was the Holy Spirit prompting him to help transform his church
into the body of believers God intended it to be.
EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishers Group.