Have we not been guilty of ignoring the presence of the One who is better than the best of men? Why not decide to honor and enjoy Him in all your activities of this day? When you do, you can anticipate these four outcomes.
Jesus bore the curse of our sins in order to allow us to experience the blessings of God’s presence (Galatians 3:13–14). One of these curses was the curse of being forsaken by a holy God whose eyes are too pure to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13). Jesus bore this curse while hanging on the cross. The Scripture says: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?'” (Matthew 27:46).
In enduring this isolation, Jesus Christ earned for us the blessing of fellowship with God our Father: Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
If you have acknowledged your sins and looked to Christ alone for your salvation, you have been given the gracious promise that you will never, ever have to be alone. You may be suffering and feel misunderstood, but you can know the comfort of not being alone. You may be a widow, a widower, a single parent, or even abandoned, but you are not alone if you are a Christian.
Contentment is realizing the sufficiency and ability of the Lord to provide everything we will ever need at any given moment in our life.
The apostle Paul in the last days of his life knew what it was like to be supported by no one and deserted by everyone! He also knew what it was like to experience the Lord’s grace to forgive these deserters, and His presence and strength to accomplish God’s purpose in the midst of it:
“At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.” (2 Timothy 4:16–17)
In any trial, temptation, or responsibility, you can count on the words of our Lord, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). You can endure anything when you realize who it is that is with you—a perfect father, a perfect lover, a perfect friend, and a perfect protector. As a fish was created to live in the water and a bird to fly in the sky, so you were created to practice the presence of God. Perfect love, power, and wisdom are not any distance from you! Remember that the Lord is your refuge and strength, “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). May you know this comfort today.
While we can be insensitive to the presence of other people, we can also be oversensitive to them. In other words, we can begin to live before them rather than before God. Prior to Timothy’s visit to Corinth, God went before him through the words of Paul,
“If Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I also am. So let no one despise him. But send him on his way in peace, so that he may come to me; for I expect him with the brethren.” (1 Corinthians 16:10–11)
The Greek preposition translated “with” in 1 Corinthians 16:10 has been called the “face-to-face preposition.” In other words, the idea is that timid Timothy was to be able to look anyone confidently in the eye—face-to-face—without cause to be afraid. I have prayed many times for God to go before me and others as I anticipated facing intimidating situations and have experienced His faithfulness. The key is to set the Lord before you (Psalm 16:8).
Count on His promised presence to aid you in the fear of man. Rely on the promise of Hebrews 13:5–6: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’ So that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5–6).
Recall also the confident words of David, who, knowing God was the light of his life, could write, “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident” (Psalm 27:3). His confidence came from the hope he could “dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).
The test of a person’s character is what would one do if he or she knew nobody would find out. An employee probably would not steal right in front of an employer. It’s incredible to think a person would commit adultery while their spouse could observe them. Yet all of our “private” actions are done in the very presence of God. God asked Israel rhetorically whether they could hide from His presence any more than Adam could:
“’Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:24)
Of course we cannot hide our actions from Him. All our “secret sins” are really open scandals (see Psalm 90:8). We are to think, speak, and act and live in God’s presence. Hebrews puts it this way: “No creature [is] hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).
As you read Paul’s writings, look for these phrases: “in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:2; 7:12; 8:21; 12:19) and “God is my witness” (Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Philip- pians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 10). Paul lived in the purifying presence of God.
Contentment is realizing the sufficiency and ability of the Lord to provide everything we will ever need at any given moment in our life. It is therefore based on the fact of His promised presence (Hebrews 13:5). It is for this reason that the Scriptures speak of being satisfied in God’s presence (Psalm 65:4).
When we cultivate God’s presence in our lives, there are many positive outcomes. Conversely, when we ignore or grieve God’s presence, there are many negative consequences.
by Bill Thrasher
Every believer has a need for an understanding of systematic theology, but very few theology books present material in a personal, devotional...
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