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Posts Tagged ‘signs of God’s blessing’

When I was a pastor, there was one thing I wanted for my church more than anything else.

It wasn’t increased attendance, or above-the-budget offerings, or even mass conversions.

I wanted the blessing of God on our church.

It’s possible to manipulate people into coming to church and giving – at least for a while.  But the divine blessing cannot be manufactured by humans.  It can only come from above.

Whether they articulate it or not, most Christian pastors want the Lord to pour out His blessing upon their church.  God’s promise to His people in Ezekiel 34:26 sums this up well:

“I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill.  I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.”

Some of us used to sing this chorus in church:

“Showers of blessing,

Showers of blessing we need,

Mercy drops ’round us are falling,

But for the showers we plead.”

What does God’s blessing look like in a local church setting?

First, the people come to church expectantly.  They aren’t forcing themselves to show up; they want to be there.  They arrive as early as they can, greet their friends in Christ, look around for guests they can minister to, and sit down early to focus upward.  They don’t cross their arms and inwardly say to their pastor, “Tell me something I’ve never heard before.”  Instead, they eagerly await the worship time and prayerfully look for God to speak to them.  I like the way Dr. Luke puts it in Acts 2:43 when he says that “everyone was filled with awe.”

Second, everyone senses the presence of God.  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones served as the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for decades.  He was such a great biblical expositor that I’ve read his entire eight-volume commentary on Ephesians and loved every minute.  When he came to the United States, he would visit various churches, and sometimes when a pastor would get up to preach, he’d look out at the congregation and see Dr. Lloyd-Jones sitting there – and he’d want to trade places instantly!  Lloyd-Jones was asked once what he looked for when he heard other men preach, and he said that he wanted to sense the presence of God.  What a profound answer!

When God is blessing a church, people sense His presence in the music, in the message, and in everything else.  They sense that God is present and that He that He is comfortable in that particular location.  When God appeared to Jacob at Bethel, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.  How awesome is this place!  This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17).

Third, people value right relationships.  When I was a youth pastor, I took various youth groups to retreats in mountain cabins.  As we all drove up the mountain, the group would become fractured as students insulted other students and formed exclusive cliques.  But by Saturday night, a few students would become convicted about how they were treating their peers, and they would break down and ask for forgiveness.  This made the ride down the mountain more joyful and unifying, and at least for a little while, the students would experience God’s blessing in abundance.

If only the adults could learn from the youth.

Young people aren’t very good about hiding how they really feel about anything, including the other kids in their group.  But as those young people become adults, they learn how to mask their true feelings as they interact with people they don’t like.  So it’s possible for two Christians to be cordial to each other in the church patio and turn around and verbally knife each other in the back as they drive home from worship.

Sometimes these kinds of relationships are what prevent God from blessing a church.  If we could learn the practice of keeping short accounts with each other, God’s presence would become clearer and His power would become greater in our midst.

And let me be honest here: oftentimes the greatest relational problems are buried inside the leadership of the church.  If we want God’s blessing, we have to humble ourselves and seek restoration with those with whom we serve.

Finally, spiritually lost people find the Lord.  When God is blessing a church, unbelievers come to faith in Christ in a natural way.  It’s not because the church launches an evangelism campaign, or because they hold an evangelistic crusade, but because believers are sharing their faith with their unbelieving friends and inviting them to church.  The Lord obviously blessed the first church in Jerusalem, and as the people loved God and each other, we’re told that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

As a pastor, I always sensed God’s blessing when people were becoming Christians, but wondered what was wrong when we went for weeks without a single convert.

What are some of the other indications that God is blessing a church?  What have you seen?  I welcome your comments!

Next time, I’ll discuss what the leaders of a church can do to secure the Lord’s blessing.

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