Maintaining a Sense of His Presence

The Scripture teaches us that under the New Covenant the Spirit of the Living Christ is placed within each believer at the time we give our life to Him (John 17;21). The Scripture also teaches in John 16 that the Holy Spirit resides within us to teach, guide and lead us into all righteousness. Therefore, God can give us the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Since we have the promise of God’s omnipresence in our life, we can live with the assurance that wherever we go, God is there. He fully understands the gravity of our situation. This distinguishes our Lord from all the false gods of the world. Our God is a personal god. He knows us by name, He knows all about our life and He allows us to commune with Him. What a wonderful privilege to be a child of the living God.

God wants to move us to the next level by growing in our degree of intimacy. I don’t think there is a theological word that adequately describes this level, but I like to refer to it as “Maintaining the Sense of His Presence.” Some may refer to this as Abiding.

As mentioned above, God is always with us and dwells in us, and He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. That’s a great truth that brings us comfort. However, beyond that knowledge, there is personal intimacy with the Father. We should always seek to maintain and enhance that personal intimacy.

This personal intimacy is not gotten by good works or acting more spiritual. Nor is it obtained by good works. It is realized by a deep longing to “know Him.” When we seek personal intimacy we turn our affections toward the Jesus within us, and have a deep longing to know and commune with Him. We begin to pass into another spiritual dimension. We are immediately challenged to have a fresh look at our sinfulness and examine our motives. We develop a longing for a deeper level of holiness. It’s like a thawing of our spiritually cold heart. We may even acknowledge that our outward spiritual activity has masked the inward coldness of our heart.

Madame Guyon says it best in her book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, where she comments on intimacy; “(For a believer) The Lord is found only within your spirit, in the recesses of your being, in the Holy of Holies; this is where He dwells. The Lord once promised to come and make His home within you. (John 14:23). He promised to there meet those who worship Him and who do His will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit. It was St Augustine who once said that he had lost much time in the beginning of the Christian experience by trying to find the Lord outwardly rather than by turning inwardly.”

All true believers have been to the place where they sense His abiding presence, but they have a difficult time staying there. In the busyness of life we let little things creep in that slowly hardens our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. When we lose this sensitivity our speech resembles the world’s language, our attitude reflects our culture and we slowly begin to lose the sense of the Lord’s presence. We become satisfied just to know that He will never forsake us, but give no thought to the fact we have lost the sense of His abiding presence.

Maintaining a sense of His presence is a deliberate and willful act of our will. It is an act of surrender and abandonment. Surrender is the willingness to surrender all those things that drive away the sense of God’s presence. It’s surrendering our worry, doubt and fear as well as those things that we know grieves the heart of God. It’s surrendering not only what the Lord allows to come your way but it’s also surrendering your reaction to what He allows to come your way.

Abandonment is forgetting your past and leaving the future in His hands. It is being satisfied with the present moment and laying all your concerns at Jesus’ feet. It is being fully immersed in His presence.

Bottom Line
Are you like me? I have a problem staying in that sense of His abiding presence. I know I am not there when my behavior and my thought life is inconsistent with my identity. I know that I have stepped out of that fellowship when I am full of fear, or when I snap back with cutting words to someone who was rude to me. Sometimes I quickly repent but sometimes, I’m sorry to admit, I enjoy my moment in the flesh too much to immediately confess my sin. But my desire is to live every moment guided by a sense of His daily presence. I think this is God’s intention for us, to continually dwell and live with a sense of imminent presence.

Do you long for a daily sense of His abiding presence? If so, make a deliberate turn toward the inward Savior. Ask Him to show you what is hindering you from having that daily sense of His abiding presence.

I am reminded of a gospel chorus that was written in 1972 by Stephen Adams, Where the Spirit of the Lord Is. It speaks to the subject of experiencing His presence. Perhaps you remember the little chorus.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is love.
there is comfort in life’s darkest hour,
there is light and life,
there is help and power
in the spirit, in the spirit of the Lord.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

Some things I’ve learned from Reflection

Now that I am a senior saint I find myself reflecting on the past more often than before. Like most people I have few regrets. There are some things that I would do differently and a few things I would not do at all. I keep telling myself that I am older, seasoned and have more wisdom, so I should make better decisions. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Through this self-reflection process I have learned a few things about my older self. Maybe you can identify with some of the things that I have learned.

1. Too much reflection causes me to center on my failures and stupid decisions. I have found that too much reflection causes me to delve into the world of “what if’s”. When we ponder all the “what if’s” of life we begin to second guess many of our past decisions. The result is always an unhealthy picture of us as failures. Then we have the danger of becoming fixated on the past. We have a tendency to focus on the negative and miss the great things God has done for and through us. I must remember that God does not dwell in the world of “What If”.

2. The greatest moments of my life were when I was “all in”. I am an “all in or nothing” guy. Whatever I am doing I am laser focused, and fully commit myself to the task. I have found that there is a connection between my level of commitment and my overall spiritual condition. When I make a deliberate decision to wholly consecrate my life to Christ’s complete control, I am able to approach any opportunity that God brings my way with passion and zeal. As I submit my every thought to the Spirit’s control, my guidance comes. I have found that I must stay hungry for God’s touch on all that I do, whether it’s a ministry project or a business opportunity. I find if I am not consciously hungry for God, I am full of myself, which usually means I am dead in the water and pretty much useless. For me, my passion to begin and sustain any new project is directly related to my present level of consecration. I have to keep in mind that I can’t separate my spiritual life from my secular life. As a committed follower of Christ every area of our life has a spiritual connection.

3. Surrender and abandonment must not just be something that we’ve learned in the past. Just because I have personally experienced surrender and abandonment in the past does not mean I am experiencing it today. Surrender and abandonment should be a daily awareness. A lack of surrender almost never occurs suddenly. It’s usually a gradual thing that occurs when we begin to take back control of our self-centered life. We forget that God can do more in one moment than we can do in a lifetime of operating out of our own strength. For me, I learned that I must have a daily consciousness of my need to surrender everything and person to His control.

4. The older I get the more I need Him. The longer I walk with God the more inadequate I feel and the more dependent I am on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. For me, daily fellowship with God is the key to keeping the fire of God burning in my soul. For many years my daily devotional time was driven by a need to feel accepted by God. I felt as if I had to do my daily ritual because I wanted God to be pleased with me. Then one day I discovered that God loved and accepted me because I was in Christ, not because I was a good performer. There was nothing I could do that would make Him love me more or accept me more. Now my daily fellowship with God is not just a mechanical event that occurs in the morning, but an all-day acknowledgment of God’s presence and acceptance. That creates a deep longing in me to bask in God’s love and fellowship and to enjoy Him as He enjoys me. Regular, deliberate fellowship with God is one of my essentials to maintaining an ongoing love relationship with my heavenly Father.

What’s the bottom line? I think the lyrics to this old gospel song best reflects what I am trying to convey.

“I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord. No tender voice like thine can peace afford. I need thee oh I need thee, every hour I need thee, Oh bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.”
(I Need Thee Every Hour by Hawks and Lowry)

“There is no more miserable human being than the one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” — William James