Consider this: once we have been born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin to encounter numerous amazing and even outrageous ideas about who God is and how He wants us to live.

Why Teens Need the Presence of God

by David Sliker
7/7/15 Ministry and Outreach

Restoration, healing, love, confidence, identity, security, and joy all come through intimacy with the One who is intimately near to our teens.

Unless teens experience the God who likes them, it is difficult for them to even want to draw near to Him. However, when they believe and feel that God enjoys them—even though they are immature and “in process” in their spiritual journeys—then they will grow in confidence to pursue Jesus and enjoy the richness of His presence.

What does it mean to pursue and experience the “presence of Jesus”?

At our new birth, God places the full measure of His Holy Spirit inside us. He fills up the small capacity of our human spirits with His Spirit. As we come into the presence of Jesus, our human spirits grow, so that we have more capacity for His Spirit inside us. When this happens to our teens, they grow in the confidence of their relationship with Jesus and their new identity in Him.

However, young believers rarely believe and experience the truth about who they are in Christ. Though they have the Spirit of Jesus in them, they often fail to enjoy the reality that “the love of God has been poured out in [their] hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to [them]” (Rom. 5:5).

Enjoying the presence of God is about something so much more than being momentarily moved by God on an emotional level. It is the power of truth connecting deep within our hearts in a way that completely transforms our emotions and desires. The apostle Paul called this “the spirit of revelation” (Eph. 1:17). Young people want more than feeling that God loves them. They want to experience the truth of God’s affections in a manner that causes small but permanent changes in how they view God, themselves, others, their future, and life around them.

I have seen Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16–19 radically transform teens’ lives when they internalize the truth of it and grasp the depth of it for themselves. It breaks the strongholds, moving them from rejection and shame into the presence of Jesus, where He lavishes them with acceptance, confidence, and truth.

Consider this: once we have been born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin to encounter numerous amazing and even outrageous ideas about who God is and how He wants us to live.

Over time, we become so overly familiar with these ideas that we forget how truly outrageous they are. So often it really doesn’t sink in that God became a human being and lived among us for a while; or that He died and rose again, and then ascended to heaven to take His place upon His throne of glory; or that, shortly afterwards, He opened up the heavens and sent His Spirit to invade the earth and dwell within His followers.

These are incredible thoughts! The last one—that He would dwell within His followers—seems beyond preposterous. Yet it’s true—the Holy Spirit of God dwells within us, in all of His fullness. The same God who created everything, upholds all things, and will restore and renew all things, dwells in me and you and the young Christ-followers in your ministry!

The fire of a billion suns and beyond is exploding within my innermost being; incalculable power beyond measure is alive inside of me.

Yet because of the condition of my heart, my mind, and my emotions, I often forget that He is there. I forget that I can enjoy union in the deepest part of my being with my best friend and most intimate companion—Jesus.

In youth ministry, we will do well to remember the consequences of forgetting, ignoring, or minimizing this reality. When this happens, we rob ourselves of the joy of walking in moment-by-moment intimacy with Jesus. When we move through life, content in our personal experience of the presence of God, then the students to whom we minister benefit and gain from that time we invest, experiencing His presence as well.

David Sliker is an author, teacher, and a senior leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. He has built and worked with numerous youth ministries and has a passion for seeing teens fascinated with the beauty of Jesus. As our guest blog writer, he is providing a series of teachings for those in youth ministry who desire to see a generation of young people give their hearts to God.

David Sliker

position

  • Director, Forerunner School of Ministry, IHOPU
  • Executive Director, Internships

David Sliker is a senior leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, where he lives with his wife, Tracey, and their four children. He is an instructor at International House of Prayer University, where he teaches biblical studies, prayer, and eschatology. David is the author of three books, End Times Simplified, Old Testament Survey, and Biblical Foundations of Eschatology.

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