“In the presence of the Lord is fullness of Joy and pleasure forever more.”
His presence in our lives is everything. His presence is our distinguishing factor. Israel was just another nation without the presence of God. They would have been destroyed without God fighting for them. Moses wouldn’t go without His presence. Gideon as one man would deliver the nation because of the presence of the Lord. The prophets stood in the presence of the Lord. John’s revelation was in the presence of the Lord. His presence is everything.
David said, “the nearness of God is my good (Psalm 73.28),” and “Better is one day in your house than thousands elsewhere… (Psalm 84)”
When the ark of the presence was at the home of Obed-edom everything flourished in his life (2 Sam. 6). So it is with knowing God; the flourishing of your life will be in exact proportion to the attention you give to His presence in your life. Only when His presence is the center-piece of our lives, can He make our lives His masterpiece. “Never let anything get bigger in your consciousness than the awareness of His presence… (Bill Johnson).”
Why is this? Because His presence empowers you to obey, and obedience brings nothing but blessing (Duet 28). Jesus said, “Come to me…I will give you rest (Matthew 11.28).” Isaiah 64 shows us that the Holy Spirit gave them “rest” in the wilderness from which “He lead them.” The leading of the Holy Spirit is in the place of rest. This rest is a place of transcendence above efforts and striving. It is the ceasing of striving. “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46.10).” It is the ceasing of your Adamic outflow that enables His Divine inflow. Jesus said, “…but the Father who dwells in me, does His works.” This is rest. Man ceasing from his own initiative and resting in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within him; yielding to His direction and life. This is the end of your own efforts and the beginning of divine enablement.
Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own initiative (John 8.28).” Evangelist David Popovici said to me one day, “our job isn’t to try to become love, but rather to be filled with Him who is love, power, peace and infinitely more.” The totality of a life laid down is the ignition of this divine rest. We don’t stop going after God to rest, we press into Him who is rest to find rest. Rest is spelled, J.E.S.U.S. The tree doesn’t focus on bearing fruit, but on receiving the sap. We cannot pin fruit on the tree. It will just fall off. It must issue out of an inward connection. This inward connection is cultivated in no other place than spending time with God. Waiting in His presence for His voice to enter and quicken us with a revelation of Himself.
“Law” can be seen as a life focused on fruit, while “Spirit” can be seen as sap focused living. This is the higher life. “The mind set on the spirit is life and peace (Romans 6.4).” This is Christianity. Anything else is just another religion; an adherence to principles and efforts for outward modification without an inward transformation. Bill Johnson said, “to desire kingdom principles without His presence, is to desire His kingdom without the King.” In no other religion does one’s God enter into him and perform the works through him. Our character in God is measured by our ability to surrender to Him. One man said it like this, “the greatness of a man’s power is measured by his surrender.” Our ceasing to be is our greatness, for it makes that man a channel of God’s life.
Spending time with God is the training ground for spiritual life. You learn to hear His voice. You learn to feel His impressions. You begin to experience His heart. You sharpen your vision. You get aligned with His thoughts. This is the absolute heart of life in God. Without this time of diligently entering His rest you will die! The gospel taps you into this rest, but you have to be diligent to abide therein. Hebrews 4 shows us the divine paradox of diligently entering His rest. The rest is then laid out as trust (absolute surrender to Jesus) and obedience (the only outflow of such a disposition). It is as simple as salvation. Colossians tells us, “as you received Him, so walk in Him.”
Leonard Ravenhill said it like this, “a man first collapses in the prayer closet.” Meaning, if a man has fallen in his life, he first failed to fall on his knees for strength. E. M. Bounds said, “the devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Why? Because he knows that he has gone to “fetch strength against him.” I tell you that, “praying men stop sinning and sinning men stop praying (Ravenhill).”
David told us to “Wait upon the Lord.” He also showed us that the secret to supernatural strength in God, is waiting on God (Isa. 40.31;Psalm 27.14).” The rest is entered by those who diligently come to Jesus to wait on Him. The rest is the Spirit. The Spirit of God leads and guides, strengthens and enables. So much so that Paul said in Galatians chapter 5, “if you walk in the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of sinful nature.”
The Greek word that Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit has many meanings. Jesus said, “The Comforter will come.” This word means, partner, teacher, leader, guide, advocate, strengthener, stand by, helper, intercessor, comforter and counselor.
What confidence! He knew the rest. He knew that it was above efforts and striving. He knew that in the rest, there is only victory. It is the place of hiding “under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91).” It is the place of which David said, “oh God, My Strength (Psalm 18.1).” “You are my hiding place (Psalm 32.7). Prayer is the air of the Christian life. “When we cease to pray we quench the Spirit. When we quench the Spirit we cease to pray (Benny Hinn).”
The revolution of prayer in the Christian life is a major evidence of the infilling of the Spirit.
“Spending time with Jesus is number one. Don’t ever forget that (David Hogan)!”
“To be much for God, we must be much alone with God (Leonard Ravenhill).”
Spending time with God is your sap for fruit and your air for breathing. It is your heart of victory. It is your power for living. Without it, you will die just as sure as a fish out of water. You will become more and more worldly. You will lose your sense of conviction. You will lose sight of your spiritual purpose. You will begin to ooze the poison of the first Adam instead of the life of the last (1 Cor. 15.45). You will cease to find all your satisfaction in God and by default seek satisfaction elsewhere.
“The Kingdom of God is within you.”
The inward surrender of fixed and sustained full attention upon God in waiting and worship is the only way into the presence of God. David said, “To you I lift up my soul (Psalm 143.8).” His mind, will and emotions laid upon the altar unto God. As a cup could never be filled as it spins on the table so our spinning souls must get still before God for Him to flow into us. Madame Guyon said, “God dwells in absolute stillness.” There is no other place in which to meet Him. Just because you are quiet doesn’t mean you are still. Stillness is the soul laid upon the altar of God in worshipful whole-hearted fixation upon God Himself, anticipating the impartation of His life-giving words into your Spirit. This is waiting. We know very little about what is going on while we are on the earth, it is imperative that we are led by the Holy Spirit in prayer. He knows what is going on. Listen to Him. You will not hear Him in any other place than worship, waiting and whole-hearted attention.
Some use music, a certain prayer or phrase or some kind of aid to focus completely upon God. Once you are fixed upon God you must be sure to sustain your full attention upon Him in worship, not necessarily with words, but definitely with a whole-hearted surrender of love toward Him. This will cause you to become aware of His nearness that is always with you (Hebrews 13.8). This is the base for all of what God wants to accomplish in your time with Him. Here is the dispensing of the most vital nutrients for Spiritual life. His inflow of peace beyond all understanding and complete fulfillment in the most vulnerable parts of man is the overwhelming satisfaction that transcends anything else that exists. This is where the Scriptures will come alive. In Luke 24, it was only in His presence that the word of God revealed Jesus. “He expounded to them…” The presence of God is the key to the Scriptures because they are locked until He opens them.
From this base of an inward setting of yourself upon Him, prayer becomes a powerfully rich experience, both of your hearts releasing to God and His guiding you by His Spirit in seeing the desires of His heart. Prayer will come alive. And there is simply nothing like it. Nothing touches its caliber of fulfillment and life. You can really tell when a man has touched God in prayer. He becomes addicted to the experience of God in prayer.
It is here that He gives you to drink from the river of His delights (Psalm 36.8). Just as a man cannot drink from the river while he is moving, so the soul must stop its activities if it is to ever drink from this wonderful fulfilling river of God that He has granted us unlimited access to. But stopping is only the beginning. Because worship must transcend expression and become reception or it is of little value. No amount of external contact with the river can quench the inward thirst of the soul. We must drink.
Waiting in His presence is renewing and faith building as you cease your outflow and subject yourself to His lead. It is this submission that releases you from the bondage of your own thinking. It makes you a subject and not the leader, respecting the Holy Spirit as the leader. We must be, “led by the Spirit.”
I know this one thing. Without His presence I don’t stand a chance. Neither do you. It is not God’s plan. He wants everything to hinge upon Him. The oneness of God and man! This is God’s desire. Worship; the inward fixation sustained upon God in the worship of total surrender waiting upon Him and His voice is the divine melting of the soul of Man into the Spirit of God.
“For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.” -Is. 63.18
This passage speaks of the holy place and the sanctuary in Jerusalem itself, but there is much to be drawn from it for our spiritual enlargement.
If, on New Testament terms, Paul has declared that we are the “temple” or the “sanctuary” of the Holy Spirit, then we also have the high privilege of possessing our own souls and sanctifying them unto the Lord. He longs to dwell in the midst of His people, revealing Himself to us, and expressing Himself through us. This is something more than spiritual performance, religious playacting, or learning the proper words to say and the proper faces to make. Our appearance and reputation matter not one jot or tittle if the “holy place” of our hearts has been invaded by the spirit of the world, and “our enemies have trampled down” the sanctuary of the inner-man.
The writer of the proverb has instructed us along this way: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (4.23)
There is an intensity with which we must guard the inner-man, for the holy place of our heart is a tender place, and it can easily be trampled and flooded. It is our own responsibility to continually sanctify ourselves before the Lord, and to see to it that we are preferring His own life above our own. When at once you sink into your own wisdom and fail to possess and keep your heart before Him, the tenderness begins to harden, until eventually you have lost all touch with the reality of truth and love.
When our souls are dispossessed by untruth, when we cease to abide in the love of God, immediately the spirit of this age prevails and tramples the inner-man. This occurs not only in the overt moral failings of pornography, murder, and thievery, but also when we give ourselves over to a counterfeit kind of rest that is not the rest of God Himself. When we cease to guard that tender place of true union with God, we become brash towards others, speculative and suspicious, self-conscious, loose in speech, over-indulgent with money, entertainment and food, and many of the more subtle forms of compromise take the dominant place.
Our lives take on a cheap and synthetic nature, and the “springs of life” are replaced with something much more inglorious than that which the Lord has desired to give us. We may look Christian still, we may know how to put on a religious show, but we are giving up the holy place and allowing it to be trampled by the enemies of God. Our lingo may be correct, but anger, fear, and strife will have possession of our souls. Brethren, this is not the purpose of the Lord.
This trampling of the soul is the plight of all men without grace, but in the Gospel we are privileged and called to a life of abidingin the Son of God. You may only possess the holy place “for a little while,” but this is not your inheritance in Christ. Do not let your soul be trampled by the influences of this age, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life. Do not surrender your days or evenings to the enemy, dear saint. Let your heart be stilled before Him morning, noon, and night, and He will enlarge His own character and nature in your soul. The purity, tenderness, compassion and power of Jesus will become Your witness, and God Himself will be your portion and joy. Watch over your heart then, child of God.