The Riches OF GRACE
ďhath appeared to all men.Ē Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
The Presence of God
ďLet us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.Ē
+ The Nearness of God +
Every believer has experienced the sweetness of the nearness of God and has also felt times of distance as well. In order to experience the presence of God, we must believe the Bible is the Word of the Living God. The Word of God is the voice of God speaking to us in the present tense and not just a record book. It is a living book. Jesus himself is called the Word to show us the†† importance of God speaking to His people. Many believe God is too Holy to be approached, and others believe He is accessible and†† reduce Him to just one of the guys. May we approach this subject with reverence and seek the presence of a Holy and†† Righteous God.
ďI want the presence of God Himself, or I donít want anything at all to do with religion...I want all that God has or I donít want any.Ē
-A. W. Tozer
In this article we will consider three things concerning the presence of God: The Reality, The Pursuit, and The Experience of Godís Presence.
The Reality of Godís Presence
There are at least three dimensions of Godís Presence. First, according to Psalm 139:7-12, we see Godís universal presence. God is omnipresent meaning that He is everywhere, for He is not limited to space and time. There is no where we could go in the universe and not see His presence. Jonah tried to flee from Godís presence and could not (ch. 1:3). In Acts 17:28-29, we know that God is very near and in Isaiah 6:3, we are told that the whole earth is filled with His glory.
Second, the Bible is very clear about Godís indwelling presence. In I Corinthians 3:16, God dwells in every believer by the Holy Spirit, making us the temple of God.
Third, Godís manifest presence is a reality, that is, God manifests Himself in particular ways at specific times to certain individuals or groups. For example, in worship God is present with His people, ďFor where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of themĒ (Matthew 18:20).
The Pursuit of Godís Presence
The pursuit of God simply means the seeking of Godís presence in our everyday life. Our chief concern should be to ensure Godís presence with us. We should desire His presence and fear losing it (Psalm 51:11). Piety prepares us for this experience and sin hinders it (Isaiah 58:2; Psalm 66:18). The presence of God is more than a Sunday experience, it is to be on a daily basis. Many seek the salvation of God and the knowledge of God, but not the presence of God.
Many times in Scripture we see Godís people seeking the presence of God and especially in the book of Psalms. The psalmist, and in particular David, had a true heart for God, ďMy soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?Ē (Psalm 42:2). There are many other examples in the book of Psalms (Psalms 16:11; 62:1, 5; 63:8; Psalm 84:2,5). God reveals Himself to those who earnestly seek Him with the whole heart (Deuteronomy 4:29; II Chronicles 15:2; 16:9; Psalm 34:18). There are those who sought hard to dwell in Godís presence and there were others who went out from Godís presence (Genesis 38:11; 4:8, Phil. 3:8). In Hebrews 10:22, we are told, ďLet us draw near with a true heart. . . .Ē Too many today do not believe that silence is golden. Most do not know what it means to get alone with the Lord and let Him speak to them. The Bible says in Psalms 46:10, ďBe still and know that I am God.Ē The missionary Hudson Taylor believed this was the secret to spiritual living. We allow too many distractions in our modern society to rob us of the nearness of God. Unnecessary noise and impatience plague our society and leaves us spiritually lifeless. We must learn to seek and enjoy the God we love.
The Experience of Godís Presence
By this we mean, to personally experience, enjoy, and practice Godís presence; to live, walk, breath, and abide in His presence; to be conscious of God and His nearness. The Lord came near to holy men and women in Bible times. Please consider the fact that there are many wonderful and glorious things that accompany Godís presence, such as, peace, joy, contentment, confidence, calmness, rest, delight, glory, power over sin, courage, satisfaction, no fear of man, etc.
In Exodus 33:14-15, Moses asked for the presence of God to be with them. This is immediately after Israelís sin and rebellion with the golden calf in chapter thirty-two. God spoke to Moses face to face in Exodus 33:8-18, showing Godís divine presence in his life. In verses thirteen to eighteen, there are three things in the text that accompany Godís presence: Divine guidance in verse thirteen which is much needed in a world filled with confusion; Divine Rest in verse fourteen, which includes peace, harmony, tranquility in a restless and††† hostile society, and in verse eighteen, Divine Glory which was a display of Godís majesty and power. Mosesí desire to see Godís glory was given to him in Exodus 33 and 34.
There are many other examples of Godís manifest presence in individualís lives (Joshua 1:5-9; Genesis 21:22; Judges 6:12-14; Jeremiah 15:20; Isaiah 43;1-5, and Daniel 3). For example, in Joshua 1:5, the Lord told Joshua, ďAs I was with Moses, so shall I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.Ē This promise of Godís presence caused Joshua to be courageous in his leadership of the children of Israel into the promise land. Also in Daniel 3, in the midst of adversity, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood firm in their convictions because of Godís manifest presence in their lives. They stood when everyone else was sitting, for their God was with them and they knew it.
In I Corinthians 10:31, all is to be done to the glory of God, ďWhether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.Ē That is, even down to small matters as eating and drinking. That is exactly what Jesus Christ, our example, did. In John 8:29, He said, ďfor I do all always all those things that please Him.Ē As A. W. Tozer clearly pointed out in his writings, the Lord Jesus lived in a real human body and yet never performed a non-sacred act. We are always dividing between sacred and secular, crossing back and forth between the two worlds. This is not only frustrating but also confusing. For, we need to let every act of life be sacred. Whether it be eating, drinking, laboring, or even planting a garden, it can be an act of worship acceptable to God. Sacred things can apply to much more than worship, Bible study, and prayer. When a Christian sanctifies the Lord in his or her heart, then nothing is a common act. When we give God His rightful place, everything we do is sacred. May we strive to walk in Godís presence daily. Amen.
ďAnd ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.Ē
ďIt is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything.Ē
- A. W. Tozer
ďBelieve on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.Ē† Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523