“What does the Lord really require of me?”
Do you wrestle with this question? Are you torn at times between wondering whether you are to rest or to push through? Are you on the path He has called you? Are you far enough along on this path or are you only at an early mile marker after all these years?
Pastor Todd Smith of Christ Fellowship Church in Dawsonville, Georgia challenged us this week with the ultimate task: readying ourselves to host the presence of God. “Not just for a visitation,” he said, “but rather a habitation.”
In Mark 11:11, Jesus comes to check out the temple. He looks around at everything going on there, but then goes out for the evening. It isn’t until the next day that he overturns the moneychangers’ tables and casts out those that bought and sold doves.
Pastor Todd said that Jesus comes and looks at our churches and takes a look around. Does he care to stay or does what He sees cause Him to slip away?
The same may be said of our individual temples.
Pastor Todd’s challenge is not some mystic’s theory. He told us of how he came to a point in 2018 when he realized he could not take his church any further. He was done. Ready to resign. It was a good church, but was there nothing more?
Then he began a corporate fast to seek God’s face. There came a time that a group of young people in a discipleship class came under the manifest presence of God. For 30 minutes they could not stand up under the weight of God’s glory.
Then the glory left. And it did not return. For a full year he wondered what he was missing in his sermons, his personal walk, his habits, that God’s presence did not show up again.
This sent Pastor Todd on an understanding of the difference between a visitation of God and the habitation of God.
One day he had an open-eyed vision that lasted eight seconds. It was of his baptismal filled with water and fire resting on the water. As a Southern Baptist seminary graduate, he said the only think he as a Baptist ever had a vision was occasionally of hot dogs when he fasted. But God spoke to him of the baptism of fire mentioned in each of the gospels, and launched him and his congregation into a ministry in which people have been physically healed of stage four cancer, set free of homosexuality, and children have had their vision restored after going under the waters. Hardened felons have been given new birth and renounced old ways.
Hearing all of what the Lord has done in the 30,000 people he has baptized in the last few years certainly stirred us. But seeing actual video footage of a little boy, legally blind, having his eyes pop open after going under and watching footage of him cracking fly balls in the next was even more incredible. Seeing a woman’s scan of stage four metastasized cancer in one slide, and then a clean scan following the healing waters of the baptismal in the next, filled us with awe for the power and goodness of God. (Pastor Todd encourages everyone who has been healed to get medical documentation by their physicians).
An awareness of the shortness of the days and the reality of a beckoning eternity underscores the urgency of telling people about Jesus. It weighs on me constantly. But the most important thing, Pastor Todd challenged us, is creating a space for the presence of God. It is the difference between Martha and Mary. It is what Jesus modeled in continually getting away to be with the Father even though the crowds pressed in with dire needs.
When the presence of God is tangible , winning the lost, making disciples, healing and deliverance, flow out of that naturally. Pastor Todd and his congregation are witnessing this personally in the North Georgia revival. Best of all, he said, God alone is getting the glory.
His challenge to us reminds me of Brother Lawrence, the 17th century friar who practiced the presence of God “as a single act that does not end.” Particularly memorable to me is his recounting of practicing the presence of God in the most mundane of tasks, such as while peeling potatoes.
If this is the desire of your heart, to host God’s presence and to see fruitfulness from that outworking, I invite you to a time of consecrated prayer and fasting as Pastor Todd saw. I confess that my fasting often comes with a desire to see God move in a person’s life or in a national situation. While there is certainly nothing wrong with this, the highest desire is to seek God simply for Himself.
Please check out the preaching, teaching, and interviews of Pastor Todd Smith for yourself and be encouraged!