By L. Lavon Gray, PhD
It All Begins With Worship
What do these events have in common?
- The Day of Pentecost (30 AD)
- The Reformation (1517)
- The First Great Awakening (1727-1750)
- The Jesus Movement (1965-1979)
First, all were incredible movements of God where He showed up in undeniable ways!
Acts 2 records that on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on Jerusalem, over 3,000 people were saved—and the world was never the same!
In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church birthing Protestantism and forever changing the face of Christianity.
During the First Great Awakening, thousands flocked to hear the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. In New England alone, an estimated 50,000 plus people came to faith.
Finally, beginning in the late 1960s, “The Jesus Movement” reached an estimated 300,000 with the gospel and changed the way churches approached an entire generation.
Second, these and other great movements of God were always preceded by worship.
- God led the people of Israel out of Egypt AFTER he met God in the burning bush;
- Jonah went to Nineveh AFTER he met God in the belly of a fish;
- Goliath fell AFTER David worshiped God in the fields outside Bethlehem;
- The Holy Spirit descended on the Day of Pentecost AFTER Peter had been restored by Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee; and,
- Christianity spread across the globe AFTER Paul met the risen Lord on the road to Damascus.
Exodus 33 is another example of worship preceding a supernatural movement of God. In this passage, the Israelites are in a spiritual bind. God brought them out of Egypt, delivered them from Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea, and called Moses to Mt. Sinai to give the Ten Commandments. But, because God did not operate on their timetable, they pressured Aaron into making a golden calf for them to worship. God was so angry he informed Moses He would not go with the Israelites to the Promised Land. Moses understood, however, that without God’s presence the people could not survive—and he begs God to stay with them:
“If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here. How will it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight unless You go with us? I and Your people will be distinguished by this from all the other people on the face of the earth.” The LORD answered Moses, “I will do this very thing you have asked, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Please, let me see Your glory.” – Exodus 33:15-18
Moses makes a bold request of God: “Please show me your glory.” God responds by placing Moses in the cleft of a rock, allowing His servant to literally experience His presence.
Can you fathom what would happen if God actually showed us His glory?
- How would it impact your family?
- How would it change your church?
- How would it redefine your personal walk with the Lord?
God desires to show us His glory—but on his terms not ours. Remember, he made Moses stand in the cleft of the rock and didn’t allow his face to be seen. God will not show His glory in response to anything we bring to the table (money, education, technology, personality, or talent). We will only experience His presence when we fall on our faces before God, repent of our sinfulness, and then, like Moses, beg God to show us His glory. When He does, our lives will never be the same!
When you examine great movements of God, remember: they all began with worship. The question is not whether God can show His glory among us, but rather are we willing to do what’s necessary for it to happen?
Lavon Gray, PhD, serves as Lead Worship Pastor at First Baptist Jackson and Associate Professor of Music and Worship at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. For more info, visit www.LavonGray.com.