“Living in the Presence of God”
My Sermon today is entitled,
“Living in the Presence of God”.
When my Parents went home to be with the Lord, My Father some 32 years ago, and my Mother Seven years ago, I refer frequently to them, as being “now in the nearer presence of God”. Since I first preached this message in 2007 my Brother has joined them in that Realm of Glory almost 3 years ago now. This of course is true for every true Christian Believer, who has passed from time into eternity accepting and embracing by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Sin bearer. They are absent from the body and present with the Lord. (2 Cor 5:8)
But living in the presence of God, is not merely something we can hope for after we die, it is something possible today, here and now, for each one of us who belong to Jesus. You may reside in a slum, in a hovel, in a card-board box in the street, but you can still live in Gods presence. Gods dwelling is not in temples, buildings made with human hands, but he lives in the hearts of the humble, and in the lives of those who have invited him in as their Saviour and Lord.
The greatest thing that God has done for us, both as a Church and as individual believers, is to give us the Holy Spirit. It is for Him to pour out the Holy Spirit upon us and make it possible in our lives and in our days to have the Holy Spirit alongside us. That is what the Greek word Paracleteus means, (God is walking with us) but also within us, dwelling in us.
The apostle Paul could say “Christ in You, the Hope of Glory”
2 Cor 13:5. The Holy Spirit is the Almighty Spirit of God. He is the One who communicates the presence of God; a conduit if you like, to bring heaven to earth. So many Christians have never really known the importance of that. That’s what made Jesus “the Christ” (the anointed one). It was the Spirit’s indwelling that made Him who He was; “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” – and that’s the same Spirit that makes you and I the children of God today.
The Bible does not actually use the word TRINITY, but from the Bible, we have come to understand that God is THREE persons, and we owe much to St Patrick for his illustration of the point using the shamrock. The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. (1 John 5:7) He is neither less important nor less powerful. He is God and co-equal with the Father and the Son. He is a Person, not merely a power, not only a force, not just a Spirit, all of these – but essentially a person, and a person equal to or the same as God the Father and God the Son. The Greek term used to describe him is “allo paracletus” meaning one exactly the same as Jesus and the Father. If he had been described as “hetero paracletus” that would have meant one of a different kind – but he is not different he is the same – and at all times God is three in one and one in three.
The first thing the Holy Spirit does in your life and mine, as believers, is that He brings us God’s presence through the indwelling word – and when He does, you will no longer be in the dark, no longer be limited to your five senses, but will function both in the Spiritual as well as in the Physical. The more of the word that lives inside of you, the more of God lives in you. A Spiritual illumination, will shine in your heart and in your home, like you have not known before. An added dimension will identify you to the world as being different from them, and the Holy Spirit will nourish you into Gods word, will and way, if you so desire it! It’s the Holy Spirit in you that helps you to grow up and mature in God.
The Holy Spirit has a beautiful identity. He is called `The Angel of God’s presence.’ He is the One who brings to us the presence of God and makes it a reality not just a dream. In Isaiah 63: 9-10: we read … “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed HIS HOLY SPIRIT…” Can you see that the Holy Spirit mentioned in verse 10 is called in verse 9 “The Angel of His presence.”
In the Old Testament, He represented the Father, – and the Prophets called Him `The Angel of His presence.’ The word `angel’ here is translated from the Hebrew word that also means `messenger.’ In other words, He is the Messenger or the Conveyor of God’s presence. He is not an angel in the same sense as those who are Gods servants in the Glory, rather He is the one who carries the presence of God from place to place all over the world, and He brings that presence to you now. That’s the reason we can know Jesus is real; and that’s the reason we can believe in the Word of God. The Holy Spirits task is to make the life of Jesus present and powerful in your every day existence. He does not glorify himself, but rather seeks always to glorify Jesus. We may call him Spirit, but he answers to the name of Jesus; Few of us fully realize this glorious fact.
When we pray, it’s the Holy Spirit who makes the divine presence real to our spirits, and then we are drawn closer to the living God. We are spiritually enveloped in his glory. God is omnipresent, but the reality, or evidence of His presence is not everywhere. God may be attending to your prayers and cares while at the self same time he is attending to mine, and to my Brothers or Sisters on the opposite side of the planet. Gods attention to me does not diminish his attention to anyone else, he is omni-present. He can help out all his children at one and the same time. Praise God!
God’s presence in the life of the believer is very important. David, the Shepherd Boy made King, understood the importance of that presence in his life. That’s why he cried out to God not to take His Spirit away from him, after he had sinned
Sexually with Bathsheba. He said in Psalm 51:11 – “Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me”
From this Scripture, we see that there’s a connection between the presence of God and the Holy Spirit. However, no Christian need pray this prayer now, even if or when they unintentionally fall into sin, because the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in every believer, and the Lord Jesus said He shall abide with you forever: John 14:16. Gods Spirit never leaves.
Moses also recognized the importance of the Divine presence. He never wanted to move without the assurance of God’s presence. “And Moses said to God, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15). Moses didn’t want to step outside of Gods overshadowing presence and power! Nor should we?
My dear Friends, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this is what our lives ought to be like. We should always have the assurance of God’s presence with us in everything we do, because in Him we live, and move, and have our being. (Acts 17: 28) This is why we should seek God Prayerfully, early in every Day for his will and plan, so that we can be assured that we walk with him, and do not walk in any selfish or sinful way.
Being a Christian is of course about being yourself, but it is not about “doing your own thing! For although He will not leave us, sadly, it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit, and quench his power in our lives, if we willingly or wilfully permit or practice sin in our lives.
I have often witnessed with great sadness the lives and testimonies of fine men and women of God, reduced to ashes by the stubbornness of their own human hearts. We grieve the Spirit when we open the door to the things that are “earthy” and not “heavenly.” Things like pride, jealousy, anger, cruelty, unforgivingness, bitterness, fear and so on. If unbelief or doubt is the water that puts out the fire of Faith, then unforgiveingness is the salt that adds insult to injury! I believe that God often weeps over our inability to “forgive others as we hope we are forgiven”? Jesus taught us in the great family prayer to seek forgiveness for our trespasses as we have forgiven others. Yet many believers hold on to bitterness, anger, and resentment and sit daily in what Jesus called “the seat of the scornful” and know well that in so doing, God is grieved; God is vexed, and the shadow of his abiding presence appears to move away. A coldness envelopes them, and a darkness sweeps in where once there was light. Satan robs them of their song and their smile. God has not removed his Spirit from them, but it is just like having a power-cut, the bulb is still in the socket, but there is no power to light it up! Do you know a Christian who is no longer a “shining” light?
The Holy Spirit is the Angel of God’s presence, and as such brings joy to the heart of the believer. The Bible says in Psalms 16:11 “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the human spirit – and it is independent of any circumstances. You may have heard some bad news or experienced some shocking events that should make you melancholic, but when you allow yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit, He’ll comfort you in God’s presence where you’ll experience the fullness of joy. Even in sadness we can know gladness. You show me a sad downcast Christian, and I will show you one who has grieved the Holy Spirit in some way!
The Bible says, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and JOY in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit brings to us the joy of God’s presence. Now Consider this: – Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23 The obedient Child is automatically highly favoured by the Father. Those of you who are parents, will know that whether obedient or disobedient, you just cannot stop loving your child. You Heart will ache, when you see your child stumble along the road of life, and make mistakes, and create heart-break for themselves and others. You will want to “step-in” and offer help, you have a “love that will not let them go”.
God is no different – look again at what Jesus says about the “obedient” child,
“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” If you and I can love the disobedient, how much more can God? Think then how much the “Obedient” must merit his love? Yet Gods love is not like human love! Obedient or not, He will still love me, still want me, still care for me, still lead me, still bless me, still pursue me, still shelter me, still protect me, and still hope for my improvement. Praise God! But Jesus makes me a promise, in fact I believe it’s one of the best I have found in all of my studies in the Word, that if I love and keep His Word, the Father will Love me so much that He and Jesus, will move in with me!
Imagine it, living with God and Jesus in the same House?
Can you imagine it, the joy of Living in Gods presence?
Now all of this may sound a bit extreme, a bit over-powering, and a bit over-the-top? But believe me, it is exactly what God wants for your life and for mine. But there’s more … I know that people sense a house or a home where God dwells, the very atmosphere of the rooms deliver a peace and a fragrance that comes from heaven, The key to achieving it is simply “Love for Jesus, and Love for His Word.” Living in the presence of God is not something that is achieved by years of academic study and pious sacrificial acts. It is not merely for the hierarchy of the Religious establishments. The simplest uneducated child who loves to read their Bible and loves to walk with Jesus can know and experience the joy of being “under his mighty wings”.
Sadly the History of the Church is peppered with the evidence of those who have fallen short of this simple and satisfying truth. The reading and study of the Bible, loving and learning it, has become forbidden to some, and missing from many of those who have testified to having “Great Faith in God”
It is still missing in many such today. Because they have not taken the time and the effort to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest that word. Our contemporary Church still perpetuate many false doctrines and heresies, just as were common in the “dark ages”. Mans ideas has replace Gods ideals!
The Religious have invented things that they thought should be in Gods Word, which sounded to most of us that they were in the Word, but they were merely the ideas of men, and not the purposes or plans of God. This shadow of heresy lies across the entire Church, on these islands …. both Protestant and Roman Catholic, in that many of our Church traditions, followed and favoured, are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Indeed some of our traditions and teachings, are clearly contrary, contradicting Gods Word, and as a result, GOD HAS WITHDRAWN HIS HOLY SPIRIT. The absence of the Holy Spirit often means the predominance of the human spirit? Where a man is enthroned, God is dethroned – think about it!
Thus, the blessing has been blocked that might otherwise have been ours! God presence and Gods power is not within His Church as it ought. It is time dear friends, to get back to the Bible, back to the origin, back to the source, back to the fountain. Time to stop drawing from the waters that have poisoned our drinking, and polluted our thinking – it’s time to return to the pure water of life, the living and eternal, inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of the living God.
It is time to throw away the dead and dying traditions of men, traditions that have brought Division and Discord to the Body of Christ, and return to a Biblical Foundation that can result in Harmony and Health for the people of God. In spite of what I say, there are some listening today who will still resist change, although they know, and know well that there can be no future for their Denomination if it continues to struggle in darkness and turns its back on the true light of the Bible.
Sadly, there are those who are too comfortable in their own pew, comfortable in what their Church has taught them, and don’t realize that they are dying in darkness, when they could be living in light. Some refuse to think for themselves! I don’t ask you to accept the things I seek to teach you week by week in this broadcast service, instead I urge you to note the Biblical references I make, and check them out for yourself. If God does not say it, if you cannot find it in the Bible, whatever and whoever may say it, don’t embrace it, don’t accept it, unless and until you have discovered that it is the truth. Listen … A lie may be in office for a long time, but that does not make it truth, …. longevity is not legality!
It is time to demand the TRUTH from the Pulpit and from the Platform. Away with all those would mislead us into accepting mans word instead of Gods word, accepting mans ways instead of Gods ways and accepting mans works instead of Christ’s Work at Calvary. Challenge your Preacher, Pastor or Priest if they proclaim anything other than the Bible. We do not need to hear more of the platitudes and plans of men, albeit great men, to help us out of our present and persisting difficulties, rather we NEED to hear from God. This week I have been reading the life story of one who spent more than 30 years in religious orders, yet she testifies that in all of that time, she lived in darkness, until the day she opened a Bible and began to study it for herself.
I have no words of wisdom for you, but God does, I have no words of freedom and relief for you, but God does, I have no words of comfort and care for you, but God does, no words of healing and help, but God does. THE BIBLE HAS YOUR ANSWER. God has not promised to bless my words, yet Isaiah 55:11 reads:
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Preach the Word, and blessing will follow, stick to the Word and you will never go astray, cherish the Word, and God will PRESENCE himself with you always.
Now this final Word
I read a while ago the story of two men who had an argument. To settle the matter, they went to a local judge for arbitration. The plaintiff made his case. He was very eloquent and persuasive in his reasoning. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, “That’s right, that’s right.”
On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, “Wait a second, Judge, you haven’t heard my side of the story yet.” So the judge told the defendant to state his case. And he too, was very persuasive and eloquent. When he finished, the judge said, “That’s right, that’s right.”
When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, “Judge, they both can’t be right.” The judge looked at the clerk of the court and said, “That’s right, that’s right.”
You see when we are “right” we can be “wrong”. You may be right and you may be in the right, but to hold or lord that over another is “Wrong.” I have discovered that in matters of Personal Faith and matters of Corporate Faith, we have no “right” but that which is found in Holy Writ, in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. What you think or what I think, what your Church teaches, or what mine teaches, is only right – if it is what God says is right.
Ponder with me in our closing moments what might have happened if Jesus had tried to argue the rights and wrongs of the Cross with his Father? Was it right that he should suffer for me, and I go free? Was it right that He should suffer for those who crucified him and those who hated him? Was it right that He should die, the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty? There seemed nothing “right” about it, but doing the “right” is never easy, and Jesus shows us that in doing the right it was the only way to destroy the wrong in this world.
Right will always win over Wrong, and
Truth will always win over Error!
Each of us should remember, that it is of no advantage to be near the light – if one cannot see!
God Bless you – Amen