In His Presence
“… in thy presence is fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11
I want to talk with you today about living in the presence of God. For many Christians, the presence of God is usually considered possible in the place of worship, or the place of prayer. Hence many will begin their prayers with the words “We come into your presence” or ” we come again into your holy presence” and so on? Some feel that going to Church brings them into Gods presence, and that when they leave the service they leave God there until next Sunday, or next Service? They come and go with God as they come and go with Family and Friends.
My sermon today entitled “IN HIS PRESENCE” is an attempt to show you that from the Scriptures that we can
Experience His Presence,
Expect His Presence, Enjoy His Presence
and Extend His Presence in our lives, every single day.
First of all then, let us consider what it is to Experience His Presence. Living in the presence of God is not a new idea, – in fact it is what we were created for. God made us for Himself and made us so that He could live with us, along side us, but the “fall” changed all that. We read in Genesis Three verse 8 …
“And they (Adam & Eve) heard the voice 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”
and again that …
“… Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden”. Gen 4:16
It seems from these scriptures that it was both normal and regular practice for God to move and mingle with the first family as those who mix face to face.
Moses too knew this experience, albeit in a slightly differing form, for remember that Moses came after the fall which had changed everything. Yet God said to Moses
“My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Exodus. 33:14-15. It seems from this rendering that Moses was conscious that God was able to withdraw His presence, as he had done with Adam, and Moses feared walking and proceeding further, alone and without God.
David the Psalmist also knew what it was to rest and rejoice in the presence of God. He could say…
“Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”. Psalm 16:11 … and again in Psalm 51 verse 11
“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me”. Although at this time, prior to Christ, it seems apparent that the Holy Spirit could be given for specific ministry or tasks, and then withdrawn again. David also knew that “feelings” might be deceptive in that He later adds
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence”? Psalm 139:7
He clearly understands the blessing of the Presence of God in the Sanctuary, or the place of worship, when he writes:
“Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. Psalm 95:2 & and again in Psalm 100:2 “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”
Jonah, the prophet chosen to preach to Nineveh
rose up to flee unto Tarshish (away) from the presence of the LORD … Jonah 1:3
All of these Old Testament references to the presence of God find their origin in the Hebrew word “panem” which means
(in the face of). These and others had lived their lives in the face of God, nothing between. However the New Testament Experience and the use of the word presence is a little different. In the NT the Greek word “enopeon” is used in most places and refers to Gods Presence as (an occupied place).
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias before the birth of John the Baptist …”the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence “enopeon”of God”; Luke 1:19
Jesus uses the word when referring to the judgement of the wicked when He said:
26 “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence “enopeon” and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. Luke 13:26 and …
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence “enopeon” of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10 and in reference to the judgement of the Beast in Revelation chapter 14…. “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his judgement; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence “enopeon”of the holy angels, and in the presence “enopeon”of the Lamb: Rev 14:9-10
So then the Experience of His Presence is nothing new, and the scriptures of both Old and New Testaments, as we have seen are simply full of examples.
Now the Experience of His Presence is the norm for the Child of God, the Christian, … yet as I hinted earlier, many
come and go from his presence and never really enjoy living
in His presence. You are supposed to come ONCE into His presence, and never leave! You come as a repentant sinner, you seek mercy and forgiveness, then accepting Jesus as your Saviour and the Lord of your life, you are cleansed, forgiven, adopted, justified and saved and given the Holy Spirit living within you, to help and enable you to live from then on.
You have come to live in His presence, and you should never go away! Now you can … Expect His Presence
Just before Jesus left this world, He gave to His disciples and to the Church, to his followers everywhere, a “great commission”.
Let me read that …
18 “And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Matthew 28 18-20
Did you notice those four very important words at the end?
I am with you. This is not a promise, Jesus did not say, “I will be with you” or “I promise to be with you” or ” ask me, and I’ll be with you” no, He said “I am with you“. It is a statement of fact. It is a Biblical law, it is a Theological Absolute, it is a Foundation Stone, it is a Fundamental Truth. “I am, I am, I am with you” This is why we should EXPECT His presence.
Does Jesus tell lies? No! Did Jesus ever go back on his word, did he ever alter the Word of the Father, …No! Did he not only and always speak the truth because he was himself truth personified? Some of you listening, will know that for many years now, and especially since the passing of my Parents, I have lived alone. Indeed you may pop in on me and say “you’re all by yourself” or “your all alone” and although that is likely what you’ll see, it is not the truth, for I AM NEVER ALONE!
I am often on my own, in my home, in my car, on my holidays, on my own in my study, on my own in my devotions, in my preparation, and even on my own in this studio, but I am not alone. The one who said “I am with you” is with me. With me in the morning, with me at noon, with me in the evening
and with me through the night, … never, never, never alone,
and thank God never lonely.
When I walk along a darkened Road, I hold His hand. When I mount the Pulpit steps, I take His hand. When I see a problem ahead, I turn from it and look to Him. When I fight with temptation or fear, I call on His help. He is there, not a million miles above the clouds or the stars, but there, right there, in my room, in my car, in my face…. I expect Him to be there for
He says… “I am, I am, I am with you!” Hallelujah.
Experience His Presence, and
Expect His Presence, then we need to Enjoy His Presence
How do we do that? We all know how to enjoy the company of friends and family, and at times we may wish that such enjoyable pleasures would not end. The Psalmist writes …
“in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”. Psalm 16:11
Let us take a moment to reflect on these wonderful words.
“in thy presence is fullness of joy.”
If you know the Bible, you will know that the answer to all of our misunderstanding is found there. Gods word is self
explanatory, (it does have all the answers) but only to those who have become scholars in the word. By that I mean not only those looking and learning from an academic standpoint, but those who from sheer spiritual hunger desire the nourishment, the milk and the meat of the word. Speaking on this idea of the “fullness of joy” Jesus taught about it with reference to Prayer. Listen to what he says in John 16: 23-24
23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
Prayer, and especially our answers to prayer can either rob us of Joy, or fill us with Joy. The word Joy is not greatly used today, we have replaced it by and large with the word happiness. This is sad, for Joy is happiness but it is much more than happiness. Happiness is usually a temporary condition, depending on events or circumstances. While Joy is a lasting contented state. Young lovers, may find Happiness on the first date, but real love brings a lasting Joy that can move and motivate a couple towards Marriage.
Jesus, as John records for us, tells us that in Prayer, we should ask HIM for nothing? This sounds strange to those who regularly begin their prayers with the words “Dear Jesus…” and of course for “Babes in Christ” this may be perfectly okay, even excusable. But Jesus is teaching us that our Prayers should be directed to the FATHER, and not to him, but asked “in his name”? Up to that point he rightly declares “hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name” for they had not at that time addressed him, … now Jesus is telling the disciples, that once He is in the Glory at the Fathers right hand, they (and we) should make our petitions and prayers “in His name”. He is teaching us all that HIS NAME is big enough with the Father for anything we want. This means no more disappointment in the place of prayer. We have not received and been disappointed and lost our joy, because we have often asked the wrong way.
Some preachers will qualify this text by adding the words, “if God wills it” but this is a grave error. We should never add to what Gods word says. Jesus says ask me for anything, “Whatsoever” is the word he uses, there is no mention here of Gods will, Gods plan, Gods purposes, Gods best or anything of that sort. Start asking for whatsoever and start believing for whatsoever. The things which are impossible with men, are possible with God. (Luke 18:27) Only those who enjoy His presence discover that.
Unless God withdraws His presence from the Church family because of carnality, (fleshy or worldly thinking) the Church can expect and enjoy his abiding living presence. But understand that God does not withdraw from the individual, the Holy Spirit comes to stay in the human Spirit. Yet again the apostle John refers to this “fullness of Joy ” in 1st. John chapter 1 verses 3-4 where he adds “…truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full”. Only when the Word of God fills your heart and your understanding, can you rise above
all the storms of life.
I am discovering that the only way I can remain buoyant is to allow the Word of God to support and strengthen me in every crisis. Christians should never be down, we should never be depressed, never be discouraged, never be fearful or fretting, never be anxious or worried, never be beaten or bruised by what the world the flesh and the devil may throw at us. Yet you and I both know this is not the way that most of us live … and this is why some Christians make little or no impact upon our world.
If we could get ourselves into the habit of practicing the consciousness of the presence of God, how different our lives might be? This week as I write this sermon, my car is in the garage for repairs and I am grounded for a few days. Now I could fret and fear about tasks not done, about appointments rescheduled and about having to depend on public transport or on my friends, or about the size of the bill, and all of that fretting would just increase my blood pressure and dislodge my smile.
I have been there and done that, in spiritual infancy. Now I enjoy living in His presence, so instead, I have learned to say “Thank you Father, that this too is yet another opportunity for you to show me just how much you love me, and to work a miracle on my behalf”.
( and considering my present car, a miracle is what I need)
Satan wants to rob us of our Joy in Christ , and get us to focus on our pains and problems, and not on the WORD and the one who is a “very present help in time of trouble”. My car has left me, but He has not. He says: “I am with you, I am, I am, I am with you”!
So then we have seen something of how we can
Experience His Presence, Expect His Presence,
Enjoy His Presence
and let us wind this up today as we consider how we can Extend His Presence in our lives every day.
I quoted earlier from Psalm 16 verse 11 “in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”. God wants His Children to extend or CARRY His Presence with them, wherever they go. I have no doubt that if one lives every day in the presence of Jesus, one cannot but carry His presence with them. One old preacher wrote “The Holy Spirit is in me, I am in this suit, and wherever this suit of clothes goes, God goes too.”
I know that, and have experienced the great pleasure that such a consciousness brings. You see when the Psalmist says:
“at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”
he is not referring to the kind of pleasures that this world offers, or enjoys. Now don’t misunderstand me, there are many pleasurable experiences to be had in the world, and many of them are perfectly acceptable and wholeheartedly agreeable to the one who is our Saviour and Lord. God has given us all things richly to enjoy.
Yet when the Psalmist writes:
“at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”
I believe that those pleasures are not of this world, not “earthy” or “fleshy” or “worldly” not”sensual” but Spiritual Pleasures, grasped and experienced by those who live at “his right hand, and in His presence” What a pleasure to know that I can
CARRY with me the presence of God. When I EXTEND
His Presence, I know that those around me, will experience something of the breath of Heaven or the “air” of Heaven as I like to refer to it. I can actually change peoples lives and circumstances by just showing up. My words can create a change in an environment, a change in circumstances, my words can bring a healing, a comfort, a peace and a calm to troubled waters. My words and presence can create hope in
the midst of despair, and can dry away the tears – simply because Jesus comes with me. I’ve seen it, and what a pleasure it is.
Many Christians have few non-believing non-Christian friends. This is sad, we should all have many people and acquaintances who we can influence for God and intercede with Him on their behalf. But let me tell you what I have discovered among my non-Christian friends. I sometimes attend a Gym at which I have gotten to know many, if not most of the regulars. Some of them, are friends, they know me by name, they know what I do,
they know that I am a Preacher, while others only know me
by my first name.
Although I don’t always speak about my faith, I always strive to love and help each as a Christian ought. Often there are deep and meaningful conversations there about
Religion or Christianity, and someone will call out “Where’s David” or “Get David … he’ll know”. Indeed I am told that on the days I am not in the Gym, there are those who are always calling or looking for me. Most of these people never go to any Church, yet there are times when there have gathered six or eight big men around me all eager for answers to searching questions. Some ask, “Why it is that they look for David, even when there is no Theological debate or issue arising?”
I know the answer to that …
… for I know that every Christian carries or extends the presence of God with them (or at any rate they ought to). There is a God shaped void in every unbeliever that longs to be filled. They usually don’t know it, and would certainly not admit to it, but when they come close to me, close to a Christian, I believe that they feel a completeness, they feel at home. Man is lost without God, but even in the Presence of God, in a Church, in a Christians Home, or in a Christians Car, they feel nearer to being “found”. Christians really do make a difference, to their workplace, their neighbourhood, their city and their Church. God is able to impart a Blessing to many, just because you will show up, I know it.
So then…I am asking God (in the name of Jesus) that you might
Experience His Presence,…
Expect His Presence, … Enjoy His Presence…
and Extend His Presence …
in your home and in your heart, in your worship and in your work, today and always … and remember that He who said
“I am with you always” also said “I will never leave you” AMEN