I want to encourage you this morning by talking about the power of God's presence and how his children can lay hold of that power. Scripture provides endless examples of how the presence of the Lord empowers his people to live for him, to overcome all obstacles and enemies. One powerful example is the life of Moses.
Exodus 33: 15-16 "Ö If Your presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here. For in what shall it be known that I and Your people have found grace in Your sight? Is it not in that You go with us? So we shall be separated, I and Your people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." †When Moses was speaking face to face with God, we see he was convinced that without Godís presence in his life, it was useless for him to attempt anything. He knew He could do nothing on his own and is saying, I will not take a single step forward without the assurance of your presence. Moses knew the reality that the only thing that makes a difference between Godís people and the rest of the world was simply Godís presence among His people.
In a day when sin is rampant in the church and there seems to be no difference between those who call themselves Christian and the unbelievers, we need to come back to the reality that the only thing that can make us different is not going to church, or any other religious thing, but only the presence of God among us, to lead us, guide us, and work His will in our lives. It is His presence alone that brings the peace of God that passes understanding and calms our soul that it is not troubled with all the fears that are filling those who do not have His presence in their lives.
Moses' attitude and guiding principle for life was the reality that the only way for them to be led and governed, to win their battles over their enemies and survive was to have Godís presence among them. Jesus said, ďwithout me, without my presence, you can do nothing. (Jn.15:5)Ē It is only when his presence is in our midst that no one can harm us. Psalm 20:6 ďNow know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.Ē Godís presence is only with His anointed, to deliver them from their enemies.
When Godís presence is with us, we will be strong and courageous and we will stand upon His promises to go before us and to never leave or forsake us. When Moses told the Lord to not send him without His presence, God answered Moses in, Exodus 33:14 ďMy presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." The Hebrew word for "rest" means "a comfortable, peaceful confidence." God is telling us, as Moses, "No matter what battles or trials you face, you will always be able to find a place of quiet rest and peaceful confidence in me."
The Old Testament is filled with accounts of Godís presence with His people.
When Godís presence is with His people, the heathen around us will know it. The evidence of Godís presence in Abrahamís life was so obvious that it caused a heathen king, Abimelech, to say to him, "God is with thee in all that thou doest" (Gen.21:22) Godís presence makes us different from everyone else.
In Joshua 1:5-6, God said, "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage." What God promised to Joshua and fulfilled in Him, is promised to the people of God in common, because of Christís victory over the powers and principalities of this world. Jesus has promised that He will not fail us or forsake us, that we will have His presence, when we are doing His will. Therefore we can be both strong and courageous as we go forward in obedience to His will.
In Judges 6:12-14 God told Gideon, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour ... Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel." The phrase "thy might" refers to the previous verse: "The Lord is with thee." It is Godís presence within us, His Spirit that He has placed within us, the might of His presence within us; that will enable us to overcome the enemy and win the victory.
Through Gideon, the Lord is showing us the power of His presence that He has placed within us. The kingdom of God is within us, and when allowed to come forth by His Spirit, has the power to bring deliverance and victory in our lives. How is God able to call Gideon a ďmighty man of valorĒ when Gideon sees himself as a coward. Because of what the Lord had put within Gideon, and the Lord is going to prove to Him and us what we can do when we have His presence in our midst.
Isaiah 43:1-5 "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God...and I have loved thee... Fear not: for I am with thee." This is Godís promise to His people, with my presence abiding in you, you can go through the fires of tribulation or persecution, and you won't just survive but will be kept and protected through it all. Remember, even if you die a martyr for Christ, you have overcome and gained the victors crown. We have to change our mindset and way of seeing life. If we give our lives for His glory, then we will share in His glory.
Brethren, these Old Testament accounts are not just here so we have a history of things past, but as examples to give us faith and courage because we know that our God never changes and Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Yet, God attaches a condition to having His presence in our lives.
2 Chronicles 14:11-12 "Asa cried...Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us...for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude... So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa." King Asa had just led God's people to a miraculous victory over Ethiopia's million-man army. But Asa knew that their victory was because of God's presence that had scattered their enemy.
Then as King Asa led his triumphant army back to Jerusalem, the prophet Azariah met him at the city gate with this key message: 2 Chronicles 15:2-4 "Hear ye me, Asa... The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God... But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them."
The secret of having and maintaining the presence of God in your life is to seek Him. The key to King Asaís victory was simply that when he was in trouble and needed help, he sought the Lord with all his heart and God sent His presence and brought him the victory. But the Lord warned Him to remember that the Lord would be with Him only if he continued to seek the Lord. God will not forsake us, unless we first forsake Him. That is the problem with the church today and why they have no victory in their lives and why their lives are so scattered and filled with fear. It is because they forsook the Lord and so the Lord has forsook them.
When Godís presence is missing, nothing works right Ė everything is out of order because our lives are out of order. The problem is; Godís people are doing things their own way because they have forsaken The Way, The Truth and The Life that is Christ. They are being a law unto themselves and doing that which pleases their flesh. Therefore they have no peace of mind, or spirit, no rest in their soul, no light to guide and direct them. All because their lives are out of Godís order. God tells us in Isa 55:7 ďLet the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORDÖĒ That is the beginning of repentance; itís turning away from doing things our way to doing things Godís way. Then we can have Godís presence and He will come to live within us and be with us to set our lives in order and bring us victory.
This isn't difficult to understand. Anyone can have the abiding presence of God in their life, if they will simply seek the Lord with a whole heart for then, 2 Chronicles 15:2 says"The Lord...will be found of you". The Hebrew word for "found" means "his presence coming forth to enable, to bless." It is saying, if you will reach out to the Lord with a whole heart, He will manifest His presence in your life and enable you to stand strong and without fear in the face of the enemy.
Having Godís presence and beholding His glory go together.
As Moses and the Israelites began their exodus to the Red Sea, we read in Exodus 13:21-22 ďAnd the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.Ē The people of God had a manifest presence of God with them, day and night from this point all through their wilderness journeys. This manifestation of Godís presence protected them from the sun by day and the cold by night. It led and directed the movement of the people. They never had a doubt or question of when to go forward and when to camp. Godís presence gave them a security and peace about many things. They could see Godís presence and that He was with them.
Today, we donít see a constant physical manifestation of the Lord and His glory, yet it is possible to know His presence and to rest in Him, knowing that He is with us, that He is directing our lives, leading us in what He wants us to do. As we spend time in His presence in worship and prayer He gives us peace and confidence, knowing that our lives are in His hands and He has promised to take care of us and to not leave or forsake us as long as we walk with Him and do not forsake Him. It is His presence coming into our lives that will bring divine order, remove the confusion, remove the doubts, bring peace of mind and heart and lead us to a revelation of the glory of Christ.
As Moses continually sought the Lord for a manifestation of His presence, He found what He desired. Exodus 33:13-14 ďNow therefore, I pray You, if I have found grace in Your sight, make me see now Your ways, that I may know You, that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people. And He said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.Ē How may would be satisfied with such an answer from God and think to yourself, this is enough. What else do I need? The Lord has promised to go with me and give me peace and rest. Yet Moses wanted more of God, just the promise of Godís presence wasnít enough for Moses, and He cried to the Lord in Exodus 33:18 ďI beseech You, let me see Your glory.ď
What was the Lordís response to Moses request? Did God show Moses his glory? Yes, but not in the way He might have expected. It wasnít in a revelation or manifestation of power, but a revelation of His very nature and character, of who He was. Exodus 33:21-23 ďAnd Jehovah said, Behold! There is a place by Me, and you shall stand upon a rock. And it will be, while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. And I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back parts. But My face shall not be seen.Ē
Exodus 34:6-7 ďAnd Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the sons, and on the sons of sons, to the third and to the fourth generation.Ē The revelation of Godís glory to Moses was the revelation of his goodness, mercy, love and compassion. But you may say, what about the glory of Christ shown on the mount of Transfiguration that the disciples saw? Wasnít that a manifestation of Godís glory, as even Moses and Elijah appeared in a miraculous manifestation of bright light? Yet Godís glory wasnít shown in the appearance of Moses and Elijah, but in the glory of Christ, shown in His resurrection glory.†
Matthew 17:2 ďAnd He was transfigured before them. And His face shone as the sun, and His clothing was white as the light.Ē Matthew 17:5 ďWhile he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. And behold a voice out of the cloud which said, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him.Ē The manifestation of Godís glory was personified in Christ. Jesus is the revelation of all that God is and said He was to Moses: Exodus 34:6-7 ďÖJehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,ÖĒ The mount of transfiguration was a living picture of Godís glory in Christ. All the Glory of the Father is embodied in His Son, Jesus. That was the message of the mount of transfiguration. The Father was saying My Son is a picture of who I am. That is why Jesus could say in John 14:9 ďHe that has seen me has seen the Father.Ē
The only thing that will keep us walking in the love of God and keep us from sin is a revelation of the glory of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Some have said, Ďif I had a revelation of hell, I know that I would fear God enough that I would serve Him faithfully and I would not sin.í But that is not so.
Only a revelation of Godís glory, only a revelation of who He is, of His love and mercy will keep us from sin. Jesus is the revelation of who the Father is. Colossians 2:9-10 ďFor in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And you are complete in him,ÖĒ We are made complete in Christ. The revelation we need is of his glory.
Ephesians 1:17-18 ďThat the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,Ē If you can see the glory of Christ and your inheritance in Him, that will change your life. You see, Jesus is the reality of our faith. He is the substance of our faith. Our inheritance is in Christ. He is the fullness of our inheritance. And we are a people for Godís own possession.
In Exodus 33 & 34 we saw Moses seeking a revelation of Godís glory. The why may be found in Exodus 29. It tells of what they were to do to sanctify Aaron and his sons for the priesthood. After giving the details of the offerings they were to make; God tells Moses in Exodus 29:43 ďAnd there I will meet with the sons of Israel, and Israel shall be sanctified by My glory.Ē The word for sanctify in this verse means ďmade cleanĒ. God was telling Moses that as they made the sacrifices and worshipped Him, He would meet with them and give them His presence and when they were in His presence, He would reveal to them His glory and it would make them clean. His presence would lift them up above all their circumstances. Exodus 29:45-46 ďAnd I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am Jehovah their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt so that I may dwell among them. I am Jehovah their God.Ē
So where do we find a continuing revelation of Christ? Through prayer and the Word of God being made life to us. As we see His glory through meditation upon His Word we will be changed and made more like Him. 2Corinthians 3:17-18 ďAnd the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit.Ē And that continuing revelation of the glory of Christ is what will bring the power to keep our minds upon Him and the things of the Kingdom of God during the darkest hours that are coming upon this world.
The next decade is going to be the worst this world has ever experienced. Scripture says menís hearts will fail them for fear. There is a dark cloud of fear and anguish coming upon the world, an hour of great darkness. Men of great power and wealth in this world know that they have brought upon themselves what is coming - by their greed and corruption and they have no answer or solution. Our leaders are just saying what sounds good to the people, telling them everything is getting better; the worst is behind us. They are just plain lying.
Isaiah 60:2 ďFor behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah shall rise on you, and His glory shall be seen on you.Ē For the people who know their God, the next decade will be their greatest hour, for they will be strong and do exploits and there will be a great harvest and rejoicing in the glory of Godís presence. The key is truly knowing Jesus and being with Him and having His presence in our lives. As we learn to abide in his presence, our eyes will be continually opened to see more of His glory, the glory that we can only see by looking into the face of Jesus. There we will get a fuller revelation of His love, mercy and grace and be transformed into His likeness.
We have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in the coming days so that His presence will keep us, deliver us, lead and guide us, protect us and fill us with His glory. Hebrews 12:1-2 ďTherefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.Ē
What is Godís desire for His people in this these days in which we live? Revelation 5:9-10 ďAnd they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. And You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth.Ē
I will simply close with the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 ďThe LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.Ē Amen.
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