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

Setting your mind on God’s interest

“…You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”(Matthew 16:23 NIV)

Peter and the disciples were at the peak of their earthly internship with Jesus. They had witnessed the blind see, the lame walk and the dead raised to life. Twice they had seen thousands miraculously fed from a few loaves and fishes. They heard Jesus’ riveting teaching and they watched Him as He dismantled the religious ruler’s arguments and reveal their wicked and conniving schemes.

What a three years it had been. Ordinary blue collar workers thrust into a three year ride with the Creator of the universe. They were changed forever. How could they ever go back to their secular occupations? You can only imagine the boldness and confidence the disciples were feeling. They thought with Jesus as their leader they were going to change the world.

Then everything changed. Jesus began to clearly and distinctly tell them that He must go to Jerusalem where He will be falsely accused by the religious leaders and be killed. Then Peter in all his passion and boldness declared, “God forbid, this will never happen to you.” But Jesus immediately rebuked him and said, “Get behind me Satan; you are a stumbling block to me.” Then Jesus revealed the real problem with Peter and the disciples when He said, “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (NIV)

What a revealing and riveting statement. It defined the real condition of not only Peter’s heart but also the disciple’s spiritual condition. They were thinking from a “flesh” perspective and missing the point of why Jesus came. They were loyal servants, committed followers and had a “in this to the end” mentality, but they were not being led by the Holy Spirit.

They were missing the very heart of God. How is it that you can live with Jesus 24/7 for three years, and participate in the ministry as a co-worker and miss the heart of God? How did they miss that Jesus came to redeem a fallen race?

It’s really not hard to understand how they missed the point when we observe our own lives. I believe the statement; “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” is an accurate picture of the typical Christian life. We may be loyal followers, regular givers, Bible readers and even have a large collection of Christian music, but we are missing the heart of God.

The heart of God can only be discerned by living in daily and deliberate submission to the Holy Spirit. The moment we became a follower and believer of Jesus the Holy Spirit took up residence in our life. He is our teacher, our guide, and our revealer of the heart of God. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is being acutely aware of His presence and being keenly sensitive to those areas of our life that offend Him.

Dr. R.T. Kendal, writing about the Holy Spirit, suggested that we often forget that the Holy Spirit is a sensitive person and that we could even say, in a reverent way, that He is even hypersensitive.

The Word of God is to take supreme precedent in our life. We are to read it, memorize and heed its instruction and warnings. But the power to understand, to heed and apply the Word is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is indeed a supernatural book, but it becomes just another book without the Holy Spirit’s personal and direct revelation to us. In other words, without the daily, conscious leadership of the Holy Spirit, practically speaking, we become just another religious person, living out of our own strength.

What’s my point? We must stop and examine our life and determine that we are not going to live our life like those pre-resurrection disciples and miss “God’s interest.” We must put every activity, interest and conversation under the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit.

Are you grieving the Spirit by your sharp tongue and your unkind words? Does your impatience quench the Spirit of God when waiting in line at the grocery store? Are we grieving the Spirit by sulking and pouting when we don’t get our way? Do we grieve and quench the Holy Spirit by having an argumentative spirit? Are we too proud to say “I am sorry, forgive me?” Are you grieving the Holy Spirit by holding a grudge?

God desires for us to be a conduit of His love and power but that can only occur if we become sensitive to offending and grieving the Holy Spirit that is within us. Is the Holy Spirit within you grieved or ungrieved? God’s intention for us is to be about “God’s interest” by living a life controlled and filled with the Holy Spirit.

May I challenge you to arise every morning and ask Holy Spirit to make you hypersensitive to those things that offend and grieve Him? And would you ask Him to fill you with His presence and power that you might have “His interest” in you today? You never can tell who is watching you and who God might bring across you path. Be ready for a spiritual encounter by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s voice.

“Show me your ways Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. “(Psalm 25:4-5)