Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 30, 2014

In His Presence

In His Presence

 

 

Recently, I was reading in 2 Chronicles about the completion of the temple during the reign of King Solomon. This was the temple that David had longed to build for God, but that God had declared to be built during the reign of his son, Solomon. David helped gather materials, made preparations for the temple, and charged his son to build the house for the Lord his God (see 1 Chronicles 22). After David’s death, Solomon became king and immediately followed through with David’s wishes and worked to complete the temple for God.

 

After all the work was done, Solomon arranged to move the ark of the covenant to the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles which was held to commemorate Israel’s time of wandering in the wilderness.  The following verses describe what happened after the priests brought the ark of the covenant into the inner sanctuary of the temple and the Levites stood near the altar and played instruments and sang.

 

 Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: ‘For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,’
that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).

 

The cloud represented God’s glory, His manifest presence with them. God had led the nation of Israel through the wilderness with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (see Exodus 13:21). Throughout their wilderness wanderings, God guided them by day and night. The cloud in the temple confirmed God’s continued presence with His people. It literally gives me chills to think of God’s presence being so real to the priests in the temple that they could not even continue to minister.

 

What a privilege to know God’s presence! There have been times when I have felt His presence to be so real. I can’t explain it. It’s just an overwhelming awareness of His love and mercy, His grace and faithfulness. There have also been other times when I’ve craved to know His presence and found myself wishing I could see a cloud like the Israelites and know without a doubt that He was with me. How can we truly know God’s presence in our lives today?

Before Jesus was crucified and left His disciples, He told them:  “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. As Peter taught in Jerusalem after the Holy Spirit was manifest: Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). Today, God’s Spirit, His very Presence, lives within all believers. God doesn’t need to guide us with a cloud or a pillar of fire. Instead, He’s right there within us to lead and guide us (John 16:13), help us (John 14:16-26), give discernment (1 John 4:1-6), give understanding (1 Corinthians 2:10-16), offer comfort (Acts 9:31), empower us (Micah 3:8), provide joy (Romans 14:17), bear fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-23), and to confirm our relationship to the Father (Romans 8:16-17). We are continually in the presence of God!

So why do we sometimes feel so far away from God? If His Spirit is abiding in us, why do we struggle sometimes to know He’s there? It’s not because of God, dear friend. It’s because of us. The following references warn the believer about grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit.

  1. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).

 

  1. “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies.Test all things; hold fast what is good.Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

 

Grieve can be defined as “causing great distress.” Quench can refer to “extinguishing something that is very hot.” When we are feeling far from God, we’re probably do one or both of these two things. We may grieve the Spirit by being disobedient and doing things that God’s Word is clear to us that we should not do. We may quench the Spirit, put out His fire in our lives, by not doing those things He tells us to do.

 

God loves us and it grieves Him when we make choices that He knows are damaging to us and others. His Spirit within us will convict us and encourage us to turn away from our sin and seek God. As Peter preached: Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). When we fail to listen, repent, and turn from our sin, however, we grieve God’s heart.

 

Similarly, the Holy Spirit is a fire within us, desiring to accomplish God’s will in our lives. As Paul explained to the Corinthians: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). However, when we refuse to work with the Spirit, we can extinguish His fire, His work in us. We may ignore His gentle nudgings. We may fail to seek God, doing things our own way. We may fail to read the Bible or pray, or to offer thanksgiving and praise. Little by little, these failures serve to quench God’s Spirit within us.

 

Our God is a loving, merciful God, but He is also a holy God. He has no fellowship with darkness. As Paul told the Corinthians:  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people’” (2 Corinthians 6:15-16). Only as we yield to God’s Spirit within us can we know the fullness of His Presence with us.

Moses was one who enjoyed the blessing of God’s presence. He exclaimed at one point in his sojourn in the wilderness: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). That’s the attitude I want to have in my heart as I walk with God. I pray that I will not grieve Him or quench His Spirit within me, that I’ll seek Him with all my heart, and listen and repent when He convicts me of sin. Oh, how I pray, that I will more and more know the joy of His Presence in my life!

 

“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

(Psalm 16:11)

 

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