When we come to church, we are coming to engage in the presence of God. The sharing of God’s Word, the worship, the offering, and the fellowship are all designed to bring you into God’s presence to acknowledge and respond to Him. If you come to church and you don’t engage with the presence of God, then you’ve missed the point!
If you come to church and you don’t engage with the presence of God, then you’ve missed the point!
The focus of this month’s messages is to encourage you all to think about the presence of God as you work, play, study, rest, and relate to others.
Where can we learn about the presence of God?
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8
Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” Genesis 28:10-22
God is not going to leave you wherever you are and no matter what you do! In your car, your apartment, or at your job, you need to be aware of His presence. Think thoughts knowing that He hears them. There’s no place you can go where He will not already be there waiting for you.
And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power… Deuteronomy 4:37
Moses was 80 years old when God called him into the ministry. He led the complaining Jews in the desert until he was 120 years old, and he dealt with a lot of problems and drama! He learned very early that he did not want to take any steps in leadership without knowing God was at the helm.
Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. Exodus 33:11-15
We should all learn to take a page from Moses’ story, and not be willing to move forward with something until we have the assurance of God’s presence and guidance.
What is the presence of God?
In the Bible, the word for “presence” is the same as the word for “face.” Pastor Miles shared that when he and his wife were first dating, he wasn’t satisfied being in the same room with her. Although he was technically in her presence across the room, he really wanted to be in her face, directly in front of her, so that they could see each other, listen to one another, and see each other’s expressions. This is what is meant by God’s presence – to be in His face, that we have that direct line of communication and understanding of one another’s thoughts, feelings, and expressions.
God wants to be right up close with you, not just “somewhere.” He wants to look at you, hear you, speak to you. He wants you to know that He’s thinking about you, that there are love and encouragement in His expression, and that your prayers are heard. God does think and feel and reason – we do these things because God does them and we are made in His image. He wants to be right in front of you and to engage in your thoughts.
Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. Exodus 33:7-11
For 40 years, the presence of God led the Israelites through the wilderness. They did not move until the pillar moved. And when the pillar stood at the door of the tabernacle, everyone knew that God was face-to-face with Moses.
As you read your Bible and as you pray, ask the Lord to encounter your face and communicate with you. The limbic system in your brain is your emotional center, where reside your “gut feelings,” or the expressions communicated to you through the beauty of nature or a piece of wordless music or a fine painting. When you pray in the Spirit, you can meet God and “just know” for certain that He is communicating to you a message of peace, encouragement, and hope, without even necessarily being able to translate it into words.
God may be calling you now to walk away from your old life, into His face-to-face presence. Even though you may not have all the answers, just being in His presence can assure you that He loves you and He’s going to take care of you!