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SOLD, 58cm x 58cm (23″ x 23″), Acrylic on Canvas, Prints and Cards Available
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.'” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
I was in a corporate worship service, and the praise was very intense. The Holy Spirit began to strongly move us to glorify and exalt God. We began exalting him higher and higher until we were singing our very highest praises unto him with all our strength, “…in his temple, all cry, ‘Glory!'” (Psalm 29:9).
At this apex of exaltation, all of a sudden my spirit sensed the awesome, magnificent, HOLY presence of God descending upon us. It was the fulfillment of the Scripture, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3 KJV).
With the eyes of my spirit, it seemed like the Holy Spirit was descending upon us in his magnificent power. He brought fire with him, and this fire seemed to cut through the dark spiritual firmament above us. The fire was holiness, the burning white-hot holiness of God. The fire was ‘living’, and it was glorious light and exceeding power. My spirit sensed that within the awesome holy fire was the glorious presence of God, who was now bursting forth upon us in the purest, most magnificent light. (See Acts 2).
This was my experience, and the other worshipers must have sensed it too because, like one body, we altogether began rejoicing in his wonderful presence at the same time, for he was actually manifest with us. This is also the experience that inspired the drawing, “There is Joy in the Presence of Jesus” (Praise and Worship Series).
People began dancing their praise and worship of him. It was such a wonderful time of rejoicing in the presence of the Lord!
However, after a little while it seemed to me that one person in particular started to dance in efforts to draw attention to himself. He eventually succeeded. He also seemed to distract others from worship by trying to get them to join him. This person eventually made his way to center stage, and in so doing, the worshipers’ attention was drawn off of God and placed onto this person, who was a very good dancer showing off some difficult moves.
I was in one of the last rows and saw this whole thing unfold, all the while praying, “No, no, no,” inside. As the worshipers’ attention was drawn off of God onto the prominent dancer, I could sense with the eyes of my spirit, that the fiery presence of God had begun to disappear. Very soon, it was completely gone. My spirit could no longer sense his holy presence manifestly with us as it had been just moments ago. Sadly, I had the impression that even though God had desired to stay with us, inhabiting our praises, he could not, for we, as a corporate assembly, had stopped praising God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
I was very grieved, for I believe we had grieved the Spirit of God even though the Word expressly says, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (Ephesians 4:30) and “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire…” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Furthermore, I had been basking in God’s wonderful presence and absolutely ached to linger in it; instead, I was robbed of it. I believe we corporately allowed this to happen by losing our focus on God and placing it on man. Instead of continuing to marvel at God, we began to marvel at man. As a group of worshipers I believe we had crossed over that subtle line from spiritual worship into soulish ‘worship’, and because of this I believe we had extinguished the Spirit’s fire amongst us.
Though we’d been flowing in prophetic worship up until this point, it seemed it had now been disrupted, and it was hard to get back on track after this. I believe we needed to repent in order to be fully restored back into that flow of prophetic worship and back into the fiery presence of God again. (See “Prophetic Worship” (Praise and Worship Series 2)).
This was a big lesson for me as a worship leader to never attract attention to myself through singing or playing, and to repent immediately if I do. After experiencing the devastating effects of the flesh on spiritual worship, I never, ever want to grieve God through my pride and pursuit of my own glory, for I know that the fleshly desire for attention and the praise of men must be put to death in each one of us. How much greater and valuable is the glory of God than the glory and praise of men!
How exceedingly wonderful is the glorious presence of God!!!
Therefore, let us, “…worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire'” (Hebrews 12:28-29), and let us, “Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11).
Amazingly, it wasn’t until I began to paint this image that I was reminded of the famous Scripture in Exodus 13:21 where God’s presence dwells within a pillar of fire amongst the Israelites. This is exactly what my spirit sensed, yet I never recognized the blatantly obvious until I began this painting. It was really great for me to have such a precise confirmation of the Word of God upon this spiritual experience. (The Bible must test every spiritual experience we have- 1 Thessalonians 5:21).