“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.
“O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul…” -Ps. 131.1-2a
In our society, which moves at breakneck speed in a multitude of directions and pursuits, there is a remarkable temptation to involve our minds and hearts with matters too great and difficult for us. It is a rare thing to run into souls who have learned the art of quieting the soul before God.
In the world, men make success, promotion and knowledge the aim of all things, and if you would advance in those realms you’ve got to be a “go-getter,” an active mind, an ambitious, almost machinic person. Promotion and advancement have got to mean more to you than truth, family, and life itself, and you must be willing to climb the ladder of success by walking over the backs of others.
In the Church, the same kind of wisdom often festers and spreads. If we are not pursuing the same toys and statuses that the world pursues, we are often trampling our own souls with religious pursuits, ministerial striving, or other “Kingdom matters” which are too difficult for us. We ought never to engage our hearts in matters which remove us from a vital communion with Him, even if they are topics or ministries that appear valid and noteworthy. It is one thing to wrestle with a matter the Lord Himself sets before you, and to go along the trying pilgrimage hand in hand with the Great Shepherd. In those cases, there will be trial, stretching, and enlargement, but the whole journey will be marked by His nearness.
It is quite another thing to take up matters prematurely, and engage in thoughts and situations that the Lord never called us to touch. Are you being overwhelmed by fast-moving thoughts and anxieties? Are you looking in a multitude of directions to find the answers to the matters of life and spirituality? The Psalmist gives us the key to eternal liberty from the powers that influence us negatively. “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul…”
Thank God that Moses waited on the back side of the desert until the bush was inflamed.
Thank God that David received the word of the prophet Nathan, and waited in repentance until the heavenly “hyssop” cleaned his soul.
Thank God that Simeon was waiting for the true consolation of Israel, and was not satisfied with anything less than the appearance of the Son of God Himself.
Thank God that John the Baptist didn’t try to move into public ministry prematurely, and that he was willing to quiet his soul in the wilderness until the day of his showing forth.
Thank God that Jesus shot down the attempts of Satan to stir his humanity in the wilderness, overlooked the desires of His kinsmen to appoint Him King before the proper time, and pressed through the piercing pain of Gethsemane and Calvary for the “joy set before Him.”
Thank God that the 120 quieted their souls in the upper room, rather than raising funds for a new building and starting a campaign for Christianity.
What would have happened if all of these saints had chosen expedience over obedience? What would have happened if they would have looked to the world for help, or listened to the multitudinous streams of opinion and thought in their day? The revelation of God has broken into history upon the shoulders of weak men and women who have quieted their souls enough to hear what God Himself is speaking. The Lord chooses to reveal Himself by those means alone, and the fact that we have busied our minds and hearts rather than quieting our souls before Him is the primary reason our cities have seen so little of Him.
Jesus’ soul was quieted in the secret place, where He listened intently to the Voice of His Father. Because of this, He had an inward stillness and clarity in the home of Jairus, though his daughter had died, and He was surrounded by relatives whose emotions were in earthquake-mode. He brought a whole new reality into the midst of the instability of that home, and resurrection glory resulted.
The Lord means for His own people to manifest the same stillness and authority in these last days, and it’s only by quieting our souls and hearing the Voice of the Lord that we have the capacity for that kind of an expression. We have a calling to come into the holy place of stillness and communion, that our children may see His wonders, and that Israel and the nations would see in the Church “the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Only a people which has “composed and quieted” its soul will have the love and authority to speak to a bewildered nation:
“O Israel, hope in the Lord, From this time forth and forever.” (v. 3)
Have you quieted your soul today, dear saint? If you have not consciously quieted your soul, it will immediately be swept up in the tide of this age. You can be assured that the thoughts and fears and confusions which plague the nations will soon enwrap your soul, for it is only in the conscious decision to quiet your soul that you are enabled to hear the Voice of the Lord. Lay down that which is too great and difficult for your soul.“Be still,” and know that He is God. There is a wisdom, peace, and grace which rests on the quieted soul, and you have unobstructed access to this blessed reality through the Blood of Jesus Christ. You need only to compose and quiet your soul before Him.
Then, as a precious 80-year old intercessor once charged me in regard to coming into the holy place, “You have to enter!”
The community of saints which comes into this kind of soul-quietude before God will become a resounding voice in the cities of the earth, whose words are as His, “spirit and life.”
(Jn. 6.63b) Remarkably, the souls who have quieted their hearts are the same ones permitted and privileged to speak in the time of their showing forth. Those who have consciously quieted their own souls are the ones to hear His voice, thereby becoming more than an echo of other men.
The Lord is wanting to form a holy community in the earth, who can with one voice proclaim, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!'” (Mt. 3.3)
For this, His voice must increase, and the activity of my soul and the varying voices in the world must decrease.
The quieting of the soul is not for the timid, dainty and cowardly. It is not simply a syrupy sweet journey through flat plains, highlighted by cloudless skies and warm breezes. It requires an inward violence to shut the gate against the hustle and bustle of this age and the distractions and pressures which will invariably strike our hearts when we set out to seek His face. We’ve got to come boldly, making every effort to enter His rest, and to quiet our souls before the Throne. John the Immerser “took it by force” (Mt. 11.12) in the wilderness, and so must we. Shut out the other voices, saints. If it requires shutting off the computer, unplugging the television, and taking the phone off of the hook, let it be done. Let your soul be composed and quieted before the Lord. There you will hear His voice, and Christ will be all in all to your soul.
Isn’t this what your spirit cries out for, after all?