How do you experience God?

Come, see, and Remain — John 1:39

God’s love for each of us goes beyond our human understanding and as we read in 1 Corinthians vs 13 we should have the same love for others. It should live within us and not only apply to members in the congregation but to all those with who we meet.

This is the message with which Shepherd Lance Smith, began service on 8 February 2015. Speaking about being Christ-like, he said our love for others should radiate outwardly and that it should inform how we treat others. “As human beings we do not enable each other. Always think about how you would like to be treated and treat people in the same way. This is how you will grow your inner being spiritually.”

Explaining the service’s text word, the Shepherd said the message was simple. “Come and see for yourself and once you see these things you will remain. As Jesus invited his disciples, when we come under the word of God, it is an invitation to us to see what God’s work is about. God is saying to us, come into my house and you will experience a word of comfort.”

But you need to have faith that you will experience God in every way, continued the Shepherd. He cited the faith of the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 as an example. Healing the centurion’s servant is one of the miracles of Jesus. The centurion asked Jesus for help because his boy servant was ill. Jesus offered to go to the centurion’s house to perform the healing, but the centurion suggested that Jesus perform the healing at a distance.

When Jesus heard this, he said: “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, when there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” Following this, the boy was healed at that very hour.

The Shepherd reminded us that we need to have faith to experience God’s presence. He said we have to come to church and experience God through the word and other church activities. “We need to be fully here. Ask God to inspire you to grow, talk to God, ask God to help you with things that are holding you back from growing. We also need to be nearer to God to have a different level of experience and understanding of God.”

He asked members what they experience when they come to God during church services. “Do we see and experience the joy in Christ? Have we prepared ourselves to receive a word that will penetrate our hearts and souls – a word that speaks to the challenges we face?”

The Shepherd also said that it takes faith to experience the ministry of God and not the human servants. He said it is also his hope that we experience a loving and willing congregation because it is through one another that we experience God.

Priest Coen Smit reminded members that we will only see the miracles of God if we focus on them. “For that you need a spiritual eye. We can also say the word works the other way when you see things you will come to the house of Lord and remain.” He also said that love is not just about us, it’s about those around us and that what we do and how we behave could change someone’s perspective. He urged members to read the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 which speaks about having faith, reminding us that the value of the experience is not just in coming to church, the true value is eternal life with God.

Evangelist David Cooks said the word was also a beautiful word for preparation for departed service. “It is also an invitation from the beyond to come, see and remain. There are many that go in anger and frustration, so we say to them, come, see, remain and forgive.”

Linking the word to forgiveness, he said that it is not always easy to forgive and we may think that forgiveness is a weakness, but we cannot preach forgiveness if we can’t be the example of forgiveness. “How does this word affect us when it comes to the sacrifice of Jesus? We need to have a change of mind, a different way of seeing things. As we read in Romans 12 verse two, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’. If we cannot do this, we cannot forgive. Learn to be humble, forgiving and loving.”

Priest Gershon Monk was also called up to serve the children, crafting the word in a way that speaks to them and their experiences.

* Adapted from the divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 08 February 2015.


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