God’s presence creates awe and brings with it joy, comfort and security to the believer.
HYMN: IN HIS PRESENCE THERE IS JOY
TEXT: 1 Chron. 16:27-33; Psalms 139:7-13
God’s presence is sheer delight to every believer; it is in sharp contrast to the violence, greed, wickedness, pain, suffering, and insecurity that are all about us. The comfort and guidance that come with God’s presence have been the experience of many notable individuals in the Bible and of our contemporary world. For Moses, it gave rise to a radiance that beamed from his face after he had spent time in the presence of the Lord on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29- 32), and when, because of the sin of Israel, God’s presence was to be replaced with that of an Angel, Moses was most displeased, Exodus 33. The Psalms reflect a man who had been in the presence of the Lord. These experiences show that God’s presence is not environment based, but comes from a walk with Him. The Lord’s presence is a delight to those who have committed their lives to Christ.
Besides the comfort and security that the presence of the Lord gives believers, the consciousness of His presence steadies one’s walk with the Lord in upholding integrity and truthfulness at home, in business, at work, and in dealings with believers and unbelievers alike. His presence motivates a godly lifestyle, and will help anyone in sin abstain from anything that will dishonor the Lord. Those around us will sense something unique about us as we carry along with us His presence into all our endeavors.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To have an understanding of His presence.
2. To have an assurance of the Lord’s presence.
3. To appreciate the impact of the Lord’s presence in all areas of our endeavors.
4. To discuss the lifestyles of some individual in scripture who experienced the Lord’s presence.
5. To know the benefits of being in the presence of the Lord.
Q1. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN HIS PRESENCE?
From Exodus 40:38 and 2 Chron. 5:14, we see that the children of Israel experienced the tangible manifestation of the presence of God as a sure indication of divine leading upon the nation and approval of their worship and sacrifices. Being in His presence assures us of being in His perfect will, it assures us of God’s leading upon our lives; it assures us of His approval; it shows to us that sin should have no place in us. Being in God’s presence means that the “glory of God has risen” upon our lives (Isaiah 60:1).
Being in His presence also brings to mind the thought of being in worship at a personal or corporate level. “They raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: He is good; His love endures forever. Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud”, 2 Chron. 5:13. During worship, the things of this world go strangely seem immaterial, rather the divine character and presence of God come into limelight. In worship, whether in absolute quiet (Hab. 2:20), or in loud shout of praise, accompanied with tongues, what is paramount is God and who He is to us. Self should be immaterial, persons around us should become non-issues, and our physical problems and circumstances should be overshadowed by His presence. Being in His presence also suggests an intimate relationship with the Lord. David’s life, expressed in the Psalms, brings to light this thought. Interestingly, this intimacy grew out of some of the most unusual circumstances – lonely shepherd boy tendering his father’s sheep in a desert infested with wild beasts. A young man considered the most wanted “criminal” by King Saul, an emerging King of the nation, Israel. As we seek to know the Lord more intimately, we find ourselves more and more in His presence; our prayer lives are richer, we respond to situations the way the Lord would have reacted, and our attitude is more Christ-centered and less self-centered.
Q2. WHAT IS THE ASSURANCE OF THE CONTINUAL PRESENCE OF THE LORD?
The assurance of the continual presence of the Lord upon our lives comes from the Word of God. Heb. 13:5 says, “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.” What it means is that the believer has to know that he is in the Lord’s presence every moment of the day. While we should desire the Shekinah glory of God in our private and corporate worship, we must not lose track of the fact that His presence is with us at the market place, at the bus stop, in the office, or at school. As we appreciate this fact of the continual presence of the Lord, we come to see no difference between life in church and at home or at work or on the street. Life becomes whole in His presence.
Q3. HOW CAN WE BECOME MORE CONSCIOUS OF HIS PRESENCE?
As earlier indicated, the Word assures us of His presence in our lives. However, our attitudes, disposition, and lifestyle could either promote or hinder our consciousness of the Lord’s presence. To enhance the consciousness of the Lord’s presence, we need to set time aside on a daily basis for personal prayer, study of the Word, and worship. That time should be quality time during which all distractions and issues of life are shelved. We need the discipline to set such time aside, and the blessings for doing so are enormous.
We have to trust God to work in righteousness always. That means that we eschew evil, pursue holiness in our personal and public dealings. The Lord’s presence has no place in us if we are living in sin; in fact, we wish at such times that His presence be far off. Developing a walk in the spirit will greatly enhance our consciousness of the Lord’s presence. Walking in the spirit does not just mean speaking in tongues, but a deep realization always of the presence of the Holy Spirit and yieldedness to Him for a successful Christian life.
Q4. WHAT IMPACT DOES THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF GOD’S PRESENCE HAVE ON THE FOLLOWING?
A. Holy Living – When out of sight of people and company, most unsaved persons do the heinous things contrived in the heart. That is not the case with the believer because, in the most hidden places out of sight of people, he is aware of the presence of the Lord. That was the case with Joseph who would not yield to the seductive spirit of Potiphar’s wife because he knew yielding to temptation would mean sinning against God, Genesis 39:8-10.
B. Our Fellowship/ Worship – As earlier stated, being in His presence means being in worship. Our corporate worship is truly enhanced by the consciousness of the Lord’s presence. Our worship takes a new meaning; it is heaven focused; it seeks not what we can receive from God but what we can offer to Him; worship takes every bit of our being – body, soul and spirit.
C. Relationships at Church – The consciousness of the Lord’s presence enhances harmony in the local assembly. “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another”, 1 Peter 3:8. Many local assemblies are no more than social gatherings where bickering and power tussles are the order of the day. In certain instances, fighting has to be settled in court. And one may add that this fighting does not arise other than from money issues among others. When the people of God are conscious of His presence, the Lord becomes the focal Being, and harmony and love find expression among the believers.
D. Relationships at Home – The home remains the central battlefield for the devil in his bid to see that God’s plan for marriage fails. That battle is won as husband, wife and children are conscious of the presence of the Lord. Words and actions should be weighed to ensure that the Lord would be pleased with them before being uttered and implemented.
E. Relationships in our Neighborhood – When we have jumped up and down in church, sang the finest solos, spoken the most of the heavenly language, made the most elaborate Christian professions – we come face to face with our neighbors who want to see the good that could come from our spiritual activities. It is here that we strive to live at peace with all men and at the same time pursue holiness, Hebrews 12:14, Romans 13:10. Our consciousness of His presence in our lives will enable us to leave on their minds a testimony that may provide the impetus for their salvation.
F. Our Offices / Jobs/ Businesses – Like our neighborhood, our offices/work places, or businesses provide another real challenge to our faith. It is here again that a consciousness of His presence could provide an enduring testimony. We would stand out different from the crowd involved in cheating, bribing, out-playing one another, stealing, etc. The difference comes from the fact that the Lord’s hand is upon us. While they pride themselves in being on the “fast lane”, we are conscious of the fact there is a way that seems right to a man but the end is destruction.
G. Our Safety – His presence is the most secured place to be in. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most Hight will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord. He is my refuge, my God in whom I trust”, Psalms 91:1-2. Cultivating that consciousness of His presence – He will deliver us from attacks of the enemy; thieves, robbers, accidents, etc.
H. The Use of the Tongue – One real impact that His presence makes on our lives is the proper use of the tongue. The tongue comes under the divine guidance of the Lord and lines up with His Word. It becomes a vehicle for life, healing, expression of wisdom, and harmony rather than one of death, destruction, pain, misery, and foolishness, Proverbs 10:20, 12:18, 15:1-4.
Q5. DISCUSS HOW HIS PRESENCE INFLUENCED THE LIVES OF THE FOLLOWING:
A. Moses, Exodus 34:29-35 – The glory of the presence of the Lord caused radiance on the face of Moses. That is not unusual in contemporary times. As we spend time in the Lord’s presence, His countenance will overshadow our lives.
B. Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1 – Elijah was established as a prophet in Israel because he knew what it meant to be in the Lord’s presence continually. His words had a new meaning – the very words of the Lord.
C. David, Psalms 23 – As indicated earlier, the life of the young shepherd boy took a new turn because He knew what it meant to be in the Lord’s presence. In the valley of the shadow of death from vicious beasts and animals, in pursuit of Saul who would rather not see him alive, and from enemies of Israel. David could say that “I will fear no evil.” It goes beyond sheer courage to an assurance of the continual presence of the Lord in his life. In the midst of the desert of life, David could pen these words; “he leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul”. There was no doubt in his mind that with the Lord’s hand upon him, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
D. Apostle John, Rev. 1:1-2, 9- 10 – In the arid and barren island of Patmos to which John was banished for his Christian testimony, he still could be in the Lord’s presence. Being in the presence of the Lord could turn the desert around us into an oasis.
Q6. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING IN HIS PRESENCE?
Those who have found the Christian race a boredom, would certainly need a good dose of His presence in their lives. Their testimony would suddenly change: “you will fill me with joy in your presence”, Psalms 16:11. Their boredom arising from trying to keep some “dos” and “don’ts” will 26 change to a delight in the presence of the Lord. The Christian race takes a new meaning of a relationship rather than a mechanism, a pleasure to honor God rather than an attempt to fulfill the demands of a hand taskmaster. The Lord’s presence is a secure shelter from the intrigues of men, Psalm 31:19- 20. All about us, are traps set to make us fail and fall. Our world is like a minefield, and there is no amount of ingenuity on our part that can deliver us from being blown off by a “mine”. However, His presence provides security that guarantees that we do not step on any laid “mine”. Being in His presence guarantees us being partakers of our eternal inheritance in Christ Jesus. It ensures our success in the Christian race.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
The moments we spend in the study of the Word, prayers, and corporate worship are a very small fraction of our entire life. Those moments cannot be denied as being precious in their influence on the rest of our lives. However, the larger fraction of our lives that we spend at work, the market place, at home, on the street, and in the taxi may take a new dimension as we cultivate on a moment-by moment basis, the consciousness of the presence of the Lord. That will help us living a holy life, provide a commanding testimony before our work mates, schoolmates, and neighbors, and make the pages of the Bible pop up to many who may never have read it. Such are the values of being in His presence. The times that we live in are tough and hard, but our peace should not be compromised as we live in His presence. We should not be moved by the news of economic, social and political happenings. We should take our bearing from the direction being given by the Lord, and maintain our peace.
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”.
DAILY DEVOTIONAL GUIDE
Monday: Assurance of His presence.
Tuesday: His presence or nothing else.
Wednesday: His presence keeps us on course.
Thursday: His presence motivates true worship.
2 Chronicles 5:11-14
Friday: There is security in His presence.
Saturday: His presence saves us from the intrigues of men.