God inhabits the praises of His people
His people do praise Him and He does inhabit His people.
How can you tell who His people are? They are people with the character of God. Jesus provided the way, showing us the nature of God. He forgave us and gave His Spirit to those who believe, so we, with God in us, forgive others, since we have the character of God in us.
Jesus said he came not to be served, but to serve. So, as God's people that becomes one of our traits too. We are servers, helpers, and lovers of others, as Jesus loved others.
As God's people we want to be with others who have been inhabited by God. It's a joy to devote ourselves to God with our brothers and sisters, but we do not idolize that fellowship. We know that our place is out in the world among those who Jesus died for. We have His character in us so we naturally want to be "out there" among the suffering, the lost, and the hopeless, to show God's light and to show them the character of God which inhabits us. Those with the heart of a servant will be "out there". That's where God's workers do His works, those acts of kindness that go beyond the ordinary.
God inhabits the praises of His people. Not just anyone who sings praises, but those who are His people. Not just those who have made vows, who have been baptized, or who attend regular religious meetings, but those who are His people. You can tell His people by their love, their forgiving natures, and their willing hearts.
The unsaved world will be drawn to God by the Holy Spirit and often through the Christian love that is expressed by one of God's people. Jesus said that our good deeds would cause men to be drawn to God. God would get the glory.
The nature and character of God that now resides in His people makes them the temples to which men are attracted. The buildings in which we worship are places to meet and to be inspired, to be taught and prepared for the works we do in the marketplace. The true worshipers are those who worship in spirit and in truth. We as the temples of God are the link between the lost and the Kingdom of God.
When hundreds of people meet to worship, to pray and to praise God, He will inhabit those who are His people, and they will go out from that place to convince the world of Jesus' love. Those who have Godís character and His love in their hearts will boldly witness to that love by their very actions, their kindness, their gentleness, their compassion to others, as well as in the words they speak.
But our culture has not been convinced of God's love yet.
The Church Crowd
In restaurants the waiters and waitresses know us as the "church crowd". We are often more concerned with our own good times and fellowship than with the waitress who stands in front of us. Our actions fifteen minutes after church services may turn people away from our Lord. That's happening on Wednesday evenings and on Sunday afternoons. Many have verified this. We do not have a good reputation in the restaurants.
That is the tip of the iceberg. Across the city, in shops, and offices people are being convinced that God doesn't love them by the way we represent Him. Our actions are yelling out a message that renders our words of witness harmless and ineffective. Being a nice person is not the answer either.
It's being a godly person: a forgiver, a servant, being one who will sacrifice his own needs for another's comfort, and being generous with money to the extent that others may think we are possessed by a strange spirit. That strange spirit is the Holy Spirit who, when he has his way, will impress people of the extravagant love of God.
As a person of God we pray for our enemies, desiring God to bless them, and if someone asks a small favor we may do a large favor. We are givers of time, talent and material things. We are seen as people who must be storing up our treasure someplace else than in this world, because here we are always giving. We are not worried about worldly security. Tomorrow is God's business; we are now-people who are at peace about the future.
We know from experience that God does take care of His own. As we act out that belief it becomes a witness and a light unto men.
However all of those who worship and praise God on Sundays do not go forth as a witness to the love of God. He is not in the hearts of all those who praise loudly. How do we know? By their witness. His love cannot be faked or counterfeited. The Love of God sets God's people apart. They are unmistakably His people. They go forth in light.
Isaiah the prophet spoke God's message in the 58th chapter of his book, "give yourself to the hungry, satisfy the desires of the afflicted and your light will rise in the darkness and God will guide your path and strengthen your frame.Ē
How does one have such a desire? It is only the people of God possessed by His Spirit who will love in such a way. They have died to self; they have given up the wants of the old nature and are less affected by the motivations of natural men so they now willingly care about others.
Being more concerned with the human needs of those around them, those who are inhabited by God will praise him not just with words and song but also in their very actions. Talk is cheap, singing can lift our emotions, articulate oratory can inspire us for a short while, but only the abiding love of God in our hearts will produce fruit that is unmistakable.
Pray for the power and presence of God to abide in you more fully. Ask Him to overwhelm you with his love. Show him you are willing to follow in the way of Jesus. That's a good prayer for ourselves and for those we worship with.
D. E. Stribling
IN HIS NAME MINISTRIES