How to Practice the Presence of God
What does that mean…to “practice the presence of God”? Can we really be aware of His presence throughout the day and night?
Experiencing God’s presence doesn’t apply just to those times we’re inside a church building. We should be aware of His presence throughout the day. But that awareness doesn’t come “naturally.” We need to know HOW to have that living, active relationship, staying in a spirit of worship, always aware that our Lord is with us.
Let’s look at the way to begin experiencing this. Worship takes place anywhere we breathe the name of Jesus. Examine what God’s Word says. Turn to 1 Corinthians 3:16.
1. Fill in the key words. “Do you not know that ________ are the ____________ of God and that the ___________ of God _____________ in _________?
If you stop and meditate upon this verse, it’s an awe-inspiring concept. The Lord, Creator of the Universe, has chosen to live within us—to have a personal relationship with us!
2. Now turn to Acts chapter 7. We come upon a dramatic scene. Young Stephen, follower of Christ, has been hauled before the high priest. Begin reading in verse 1—or if you want to see how Stephen got in this predicament, back up into chapter 6.
Notice especially, when you get to chapter 7, verses 44-50.
Up to this point, Stephen has been giving them a history lesson. Do you find it often occurs that people in high places forget the true history of their nation? _______
3. Note verses 44-50. Stephen has given them much to think about. On this earth, before Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, what was known as the “dwelling place” of God? _________________________________________________________________________
4. According to Stephen—inspired by the Holy Spirit—where does God dwell now?
5. This thought was overwhelming to David as well…as we’ll see. Turn to Psalm 8. As we “dig deeper,” read this short little Psalm—one of the most poetic in Scripture! Pay close attention to verses 3 and 4.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man [that’s us!] that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man You ____________ him?
“Visit” in this verse means more than just “pays a visit,” like we think of today. It implies a full encounter with God.
But I’m afraid many of us aren’t conscious of the presence of God in our lives. We perform certain duties and rituals; we adhere to certain beliefs—but after all of that, God is still not a bright, burning, living reality in our lives.
How do we have a personal, vital relationship with God?
The answer is simple but not simplistic. There’s a lesson in the life of Moses (Exodus 33-34) that reveals the pattern for continually experiencing God’s presence of in our lives. We’ll be using these 2 chapters as the basis for our study today.
The Bible clearly says that the events in the lives of the Old Testament saints happened so that they can be examples to us. So we cannot say, “Well, that was Moses. It doesn’t apply to me.”
A CLOSER LOOK WITHIN—HAS THE “GLORY” GONE?
The presence of God was so real in Moses’ life that after one encounter, his face literally shone. The reflection of God’s glory was so strong, he had to wear a veil over his face when he went out in public. The people knew Moses had a message from God when he spoke because they could see the glory of God in his shining face.
But the sad thing is…Moses lost the glow. A time came when that glow faded. However, Moses continued to wear the veil—not to veil the glory of God, but to keep people from knowing that God’s glory was no longer there!
Could the same be said of you? Not the literal glow, but was there a time in your life when God was very real to you, but now the glory is gone? Do you “wear a veil,” so to speak, to disguise that fact?
5. Was God once very real to you, but now you just go through the motions? ___________
You may be outwardly saying, “Yes, Jesus is real and precious to me” while inwardly you know you’re hiding behind some kind of veil.
It doesn’t need to be this way.
Let me give you some steps to make God real and experience His presence.
We are “digging deeper” now in Exodus chapters 33 and 34.
I. Step One: Determination
Become determined that you will have God’s presence in your life. Read this exchange between God and Moses, beginning in Exodus 33:1:
And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it.
What promise about the land is God reminding Moses of? ______________________________
And I will send an angel before thee…unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way. (emphasis mine)
God says, “Moses, I’ve promised you the land. You’re going to get the land and I’m going to send a mighty angel to go before you to drive these Canaanites out. But I’m not going to go with you. I’ll give you victory, success, and the land. But you won’t have My presence.”
What do you think your reaction would be if the Lord said to you, “You can go—but I'm not going with you? _________________________________________________________________
Why wasn’t an accompanying angel enough to satisfy Moses? _________________________
When God said that, the people mourned, and rightly so, because they had enough sense to know that without God, what good is the land? What good is the victory without the Victor? What good is the blessing without the Blessor? What good is the gift without the Giver? So the people said, “We’re not going to settle for an angel.”
Note Moses’ response! (v. 15)
“And he said unto Him, If Thy presence go not with me, ______________________ ___.”
He’s saying, “Lord, I’m not going without You. If You don’t go, I’m not going.”
Many of us might have settled for what God said to Moses. We might have said, “Lord, You promised me eternal life. I’ve got eternal life. You promised me heaven. I’ve got heaven. You promised You would see me through. You’re going to see me through. Thank You for the angel, Lord. Thank You for heaven, Lord. Thank You for eternal security, Lord.” And you’d settle for that—without the conscious presence of God.
I want to beg you not to do that. That would be like a husband and wife who are married but live separate lives. Do you want that kind of relationship with God? Do you want what God will give without having God Himself? Or are you saying, “I’m not satisfied with separate maintenance. I want to know the Lord intimately.”
If we want the conscious presence of God in our lives, it requires determination: “God, I will not take Your blessings without You. I don’t want any angel. I need You. I’m not going anywhere without You.”
The Lord wanted them to be ready for His presence. Continue to Exodus 34:1-2.
“And ______ __________ in the morning, and come up in the morning unto Mount Sinai, and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount.”
If you expect the presence of God, you need to do what God told Moses to do: “Be ready in the morning.” Don’t carelessly, casually, haphazardly seek the presence of God.
There is an important principle we see throughout Scripture:
“God does business with those who mean business.”
The Bible speaks of “preparing your heart to seek the Lord.”
Two Different Men: Two Outcomes
Rehoboam did not have the presence of God in his life. Turn to 2 Chronicles 12:14. The Bible says, “And he did _________, because he ________________ not his heart to _________ the Lord.”
Isn’t that interesting? It doesn’t even say that he did evil because he didn’t seek the Lord. He did evil because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord. There must be preparation to be ready.
Now look at a good man named Jehoshaphat. Go forward a few pages to 2 Chronicles 19:3
Nevertheless there are good things found in thee [Jehoshaphat], in that thou hast taken away the groves [places of pagan worship] out of the land, and hast ________________ thine _____________ to ________ God.
Do you see the emphasis God makes upon preparation? You must prepare yourself to seek the Lord. I hope that tomorrow morning, when you have your quiet time with God, you’ll prepare your heart. Get away, close the door, get a readable Bible, get a notebook, put away all the distractions and say, “God, I have but one business right now, and that is to prepare my heart to seek You.”
Each morning, determine not to have a casual approach, but prepare to seek the conscious presence of God.
“And ____ ________ shall come up with thee.” Exodus 34:3a
God says, “Now leave these people. Moses, it’s just going to be you and Me, alone.”
There are times when you need to be alone with God—whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever responsibility God has given you.
The best time you’ll spend in ministry for your children or anyone is when you’re with God talking to Him about them. Isolate yourself from the problems long enough to get alone with God.
Turn to Matthew 6:6.
Who is speaking? ___________________
“...when thou prayest, enter into thy ____________, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father....”
He didn’t mean a clothes closet! A closed place where you shut the doors and open the window to heaven to get alone with God.
A CLOSER LOOK AT “ISOLATION”
Look at who in the Bible met God in a place of isolation:
- Abraham was alone when the Lord spoke to him and gave him that great covenant.
- Daniel was alone when God spoke to him and gave him an array of prophecy.
- Paul was alone in Arabia where God gave him the great things he wrote down for us in the book of Romans and the epistles.
- Peter was alone on a rooftop when he had a vision and God spoke to him about Cornelius and opening the door to the Gentiles.
- John was alone on the Isle of Patmos on the Lord’s Day when God gave him the book of the Revelation.
- Moses was alone in the wilderness when God gave him the Ten Commandments.
- And the greatest example of all, the Lord Jesus. In the midst of a busy, fruitful ministry where miracles were being done, He withdrew by Himself to the wilderness to pray (Luke 5:15-16).
If you want that conscious presence of God, you must expect Him! Notice now in 34:4.
And he [Moses] hewed two tables of stone like unto the first…”
Why did he carve out two stone tablets? Because He fully expected God to give him something to put on them!
Moses went to receive something from God, and God said, “Moses, be prepared to take it down. Take with you two blank tablets.”
When you have a quiet time, are you expecting God to give you something? When you open the Word of God, do you expect to learn? I rarely open my Bible to read without taking out my pen and a yellow legal pad, because I expect to get something when I read the Bible! If you expect Him to give you something, be ready to write it down. You’ll be surprised how it will clarify your mind when you write it out. Writing it down not only transfers it to paper; it writes it upon your heart. If you’re expecting God to give you something, get ready for God to give you something.
So when you have your quiet time each day,
You get alone.
You have determination.
You’ve made preparation.
You have expectation that God is going to speak to you.
You respond with adoration.
If you begin to follow these steps, you’ll begin to experience in a more tangible way the Presence of God.
There are some other steps as well, and next month, we’ll take a look at those. For example, as you are sitting there with your Bible open, what is the best way to absorb and retain the message of that Scripture? We’ll look at that next time.
In closing, meditate on this truth:
You become like what you spend time with.
When you spend time with Him and you’re looking into the mirror of God’s Word, in that mirror you see yourself. And you see Jesus in there at the same time. Then you and Jesus begin to be alike. You’re changed from glory to glory. Praise His wonderful Name!
Next time: How to dig into a passage of Scripture, then—Adoration, Intercession, Observation, and Transformation