Presence of God

<<awareness of God>>

Even though we may be unaware of God or have no conscious sense of His presence (which is not discernible by our natural senses), He is Spirit and is everywhere. Although this divine attribute of omnipresence is difficult for our finite minds to comprehend, we should be governed by fact and faith, not by what is personally understandable (Job 36:26, 37:5; Ps 139:7-10; Prov 15:3; Jer 23:24; Jn 4:24; 2 Cor 5:7; Eph 1:23). The emphasis should not be on God's impersonal capability of being everywhere rather the intimate relationship we as believers can have with Him. When our senses are awakened and we are aware of His being with us – in a clear and convincing manner, a noticeable, felt realization that He is in our midst – we enjoy an atmosphere that reflects the qualities of heaven, experiencing "In your presence is fulness of joy" (Ps 16:11). Conversely, we can also discern or experience the forbidding presence of evil in certain localities or people.

The indwelling Spirit

At salvation the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the Christian to guide, instruct, convict and comfort. It is, however, possible to quench His activity so we are exhorted to “be filled with the Spirit” through an ongoing replenishment (Jn 14:16,17,23,26; Rom 8:9,11; 1 Cor 2:12, 3:16,17, 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:22, 5:18). Having a fuller understanding of the Holy Spirit’s presence, rather than a mystical, fleeting emotional feeling, is an incentive to avoid sin so cultivate a sense of the conscious reality of Him being alongside you. Endeavor to do everything possible to eliminate any hindrance to experiencing Him by living cleansed, obedient lives (Heb 12:1; Jas 4:8).

We have the privilege of hosting the Spirit of God and taking Him into every situation we encounter, imparting His liberating influence into the chaos of needy humanity and

Be ready to respond to His directions

bringing release to those bound by Satan. Jesus, our prime example, was known by His gracious words and the power working through Him (Mt 7:29; Mk 1:27; Lk 4:22). As Luke recorded it, “The power of God was present for Him to heal the sick” (Lk 4:18-19, 5:17, 6:19; Act 10:38).

 
Living by faith

While we as Christians can never lose God’s indwelling presence in reality, we can lose the sense of His presence. Inevitably there are times when each of us don’t ‘feel’ saved or of the Spirit’s presence within. During these times we are to “live by faith, not by sight”, for He has promised to never leave or forsake us stating, “I will be with you always” (Isa 43:1,2; Mt 28:20; 2 Cor 5:7; Heb 13:5). Thus we must reprogram our minds to live with a consciousness that the presence of God is continually with us. God’s omnipresence can exist without our being aware of it, yet we will be conscious of His manifest presence with a clear and convincing experience or awareness in our spirits as He makes Himself known to us – this can be through a variety of means. We should seek God’s manifest presence, not that we rely on feelings or that we seek after a sign, but we expect the Comforter to comfort His own – and we gladly acknowledge that we need His comfort.

The name given to the infant Jesus was Immanuel, meaning “God with us…” (Mt 1:23).  The three disciples present at the Transfiguration recognised “It was good for us to be here” (Mt 17:4). The sense of God’s presence is often an untold blessing. “The Lord [said], ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’. Moses, who knew and valued the necessity of the tangible expression of God, said “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here…What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Ex 33:14-16). He  recognised the vital importance of God’s presence with them, and the reassurance it gives.

Experiencing His presence will be blocked if we view life from the world’s ungodly perspective or are so absorbed by other issues that we demote Him from the first place He should have in our lives. Likewise, engaging in sinful practices will cause disengagement for He is holy and cannot tolerate sin,

    Am I conscious of God's presence with                          me, to guide and give victory

yet the pure in heart will ‘see’ God (Ex 20:3; Isa 59:1,2; Mt 5:8; Mk 12:30; Lk 24:31,32). This is a powerful incentive to keep us from sin, or to apply His cleansing to any known sin (2 Cor 7:1; Eph 2:13; 2 Tim 2:21; Heb 9:14,22; 10:19-22; 1 Jn 1:9). He promises to reveal Himself to those who obey Him (Jn 14:21).

Besides dealing with sin, bringing your thoughts into submission and keeping a close watch on your words. Spend time in worship, prayer, reading the Word and meditating on Jesus to be realigned with the Spirit and tangibly experience His ministry to your spirit (2 Cor 10:5). Then you will be sensitive to His presence, recognize what He is doing and be able to co-operate with Him.                                

As we intentionally give Him our best, honouring Him with genuine praise and worship, living in close relationship with Him, we will consciously be mindful of His closeness as a deep sustaining reality. Our spirit will be impacted by Him, bringing lasting transformation (1 Sam 2:30; Ps 22:3;

Actively listen and look for signs of God’s                                           presence every day

Jn 15:4).  Growing in holiness is a progressive occurrence in the lives of those intimately walking with God (2 Chr 15:1-4).

Revealing His presence

In our daily lives the fruit of the Spirit should make us clearly distinguishable as ‘Christ’s ones’ (Ex 33:16; Gal 5:22,23). Today, as believers we owe the unsaved a valid representation of the life of Christ and the transformation He can make (Mk 16:15-18; Act 4:13). We should be so in-tune with the Holy Spirit within that wherever we go we radiate the love and power of Christ to bring a change of lifestyle and release where Satan has held people in bondage. Don’t settle for a token connection with God, be passionate in your relationship with Him and be like Paul who considered his achievements of no consequence, rather “I want to know Christ…” and to make Him known (Rom 15:20; Phil 3:8,10,13,14).

God wants to make Himself known to us and have a intimate heart-to-heart relationship with us, as was the norm in the Garden of Eden until sin broke the connection (Gen 3:8,9). For this interaction to a tangible reality we must do our part; deal with past sin (not hide as Adam and Eve did), then ask for and expect Him to reveal Himself to us (1 Sam 3:21; Lk 11:13; Jn 21:1). While sometimes we may be aware in our physical senses of His nearness, our heart/spirit is the most important area to be impacted as this influences the remainder of our bodies (Prov 4:23). It is as we reach out in faith to Him that He touches us and makes us whole (Lk 8:45-47). It is not objective proof of God's existence that we want but the experience of God's presence.

Some implications

1/. In the OT God’s felt presence was predominately manifest in the Tabernacle and then later the Temple. This changed on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit’s presence and power came into and radically changed the lives of those who embraced Christ, and this can be our experience too for we are now the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (Act 2:2-4; 1 Cor 6:19).  As we unite with other believers there is an increased awareness of the divine, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” so nurture His unmistakable presence which provides protection (Ps 31:19,20; Mt 18:20). 

2/. Paul wrote, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power…a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Cor 2:4,5, 4:20). An understanding of the presence of God truly empowers. Believers can persevere under enormous difficulty…. because they see Him ‘who is invisible’ and they are ‘looking for a better country’ – the Kingdom of God (Heb 11:16,27).

3/. Jesus will present all believers faultless before God with ‘exceeding joy’ and they will live forever in that state while the unbelievers will be shut out (1 Thes 4:17; 2 Thes 1:8,9; Jud 1:24; Rev 21:8).

4/. ‘Spending time in God’s presence’ refers to specifically focusing on Him in personal devotions of worship, Bible reading, reflection and prayer. We must intentionally give Him our attention for although He desires an intimate relationship with us, He will not force Himself into our lives, but waits to be invited (Jer 29:13; Heb 10:22; Jas 4:8; Rev 3:20). He

  Through worship we become aware                                 of His presence

often speaks in a ‘still, small voice’ which can be easily drowned out (1 Kgs 19:12). As we become like those we spend time with, don’t you want to spend time with Him?

5/. As sin blocks our awareness of His presence, the remedy is to “Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Act 3:19).

6/.  Most Protestants consider Jesus is spiritually (but not physically) present at communion and the elements are only symbols that direct our attention to commune with the Lord through the act of remembrance and worship (1 Cor 11:23-26). In contrast the traditional Roman Catholic view is that of transubstantiation in which (although undiscernible to the senses) change into the physical body and blood of Christ.                   

See also: altar, cleanse, devotions, fruit (of the Spirit), Holy Spirit, hunger [for God], influence, manifest, mountain (experience), omnipresence, response, spirit realm, time with God, transubstantiation, worship.

 


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