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How to Enjoy and Practice the Presence of God

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, How to Enjoy the Presence of God.

Exodus 33:1-3

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, How to Enjoy the Presence of God.

Knowing God Personally and Intimately

The real question is not whether you know about God. Do you know God personally? Is He a bright, vital reality? If so, you have attained the purpose for which you were created. If you live in the presence of God, you need nothing more—and you should settle for nothing less.

A Terrifying Thought: Life Without the Presence of God

Exodus 33:1-3
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Emphasis added)

What was the situation?

The Golden Calf

The Jewish people are in the wilderness. God has given them a covenant, a promise. But in the middle of their journey to the Promised Land, they sin terribly against God by creating and worshiping a golden calf.

Exodus 32:4b,6
They said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”…Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Moses comes down off the mountain with the Ten Commandments and sees this orgy going on. They are committing immorality, doing terrible things, dancing around this golden calf.

Moses knows this is a crisis.

Exodus 32:30-32
Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

God answered, “I will not destroy them. But,” He said, “I am not going with them.” These are some of the most frightening words in the Bible.

Do You Live in the Presence of God?

Many Christians are thinking, “I have salvation, eternal security. But I’m not walking in joy and victory. God does not feel real to me. I have His protection, provision, and promise, but I do not have the presence of God.”

Do not think that just because you have provision and protection you are right with God. Israel knew better, and thank God they did. “When the people heard this bad news, they mourned” (Exodus 33:4a). It is an evil thing to have gifts without the Giver. What made Israel different from the other nations? The manifested presence of God.

Is God real to you? Are you practicing the presence of God?

Or are you sitting in church on Sunday morning, just fulfilling your duty?

How to Stay in God’s Presence

The same things that caused God to withdraw His presence from Israel will also rob you of God’s presence. If you don’t feel you know God personally, ask yourself these four questions.

1. Have I Disobeyed God?

Israel disobeyed God. “The LORD said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them” (Exodus 32:7-8a).

Maybe you have confessed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, subscribed to the authentic doctrines of the Church, and followed the Lord in baptism, but you do not enjoy the presence of God. You don’t even have assurance of your salvation.

It is not your pastor’s responsibility to assure you of salvation. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is the manifested presence of God in your life.

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). If you willfully disobey God, you grieve and quench the Spirit. God ceases to be real to you. You even wonder, “Am I saved?”

John 14:21
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

2. Is My Devotion to God Divided?

The Israelites had divided devotion. The word “Israel” means “the people of God,” yet they made a golden calf and worshiped it. They made for themselves a god that was no bigger than their own imagination.

There might be a golden calf in your life. Anything that you love, fear, or serve more than God is an idol.

Answer this before God: Is there anyone or anything in your life that takes precedence over God? Is there anything that gets more of your attention than God does? God doesn’t want “a place” in your life. God despises “prominence.” God demands preeminence. He will take nothing less.

It should not come as a surprise that because of that idol in your life, God says, “I’m not going with you.”

3. Do I Depend on Something Other Than God?

“They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” (Exodus 32:8b).

Israel began to depend on this ugly god made with their own hands. When you depend upon our ingenuity, wit, and wisdom, or when God gives you a victory and you give the glory to someone else, what happens? You lose the presence of God.

Isaiah 42:8
I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.

When God brings you through the storm, and then you give credit where credit is not due and fail to give God the glory, is it any wonder that His presence is not real in your life?

4. Is There Defiance in My Heart?

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!’” (Exodus 32:9) God was leading them, but they were like horses who rear up and will not yield.

Do you want God to be real to you? Don’t be stiff‑necked.

If God gives a specific revelation, if God speaks to you about what He wants you to do, then obey Him. Is there somebody He wants you to witness to? Has God been putting an impulse in your heart to serve the Church? Is there somebody with whom you need to reconcile? Young man, young woman, is there a relationship you need to break off?

Enjoying the Presence of God

Thank God, Moses had enough sense to say, in effect, “No deal.” He said to God, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15).

What is worship? Coming to church? Singing songs? Saying prayers? Giving money? No!

Worship is enjoying the presence of God.

List of Scriptures Referenced in This Article

Exodus 32:4-9,30-32, 33:1‑4,15; Ephesians 4:30; John 14:21; Isaiah 42:8

More Bible Verses About How to Practice the Presence of God

1 John 4:13
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
2 Chronicles 30:9
For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”
Psalm 91:1-2
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”