Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
What does it mean to be present? I can hear the grade school teacher going down the roll. I was usually first on the list as my last name began with “A”. Answered simply by saying, “Here.” My attendance was noted in her book. As she continued down the list, those present would indicate it in a variety of ways yet those who were absent would be revealed in silence. Often followed by an excuse or explanation by a classmate or friend. Duly noted, the instructor would continue with the lesson plan moving on in the day. Our presence in the classroom did not dictate the school schedule. The educational process continued whether we arrived on time or not. It was not created or conducted exclusive by us or for us. We participate in the education system. When one came back to school after an illness or absence, it would be their responsibility to catch up on assignments and meet the requirements as indicated.
Our society has developed an overwhelming and crippling sense of entitlement that has seeped into the cracks and crevices of the Body of Christ. A sense of entitlement or special privilege simply because we live, breathe and exist. Our own actions and attitudes are overlooked as fingers point to the next person, the system or society’s flaws as a whole. There is no respect for authority. In fact, there is a wave of active rebellion against the law. Compassion is not generated for the peacekeepers, but those who steal, kill and destroy the lives of others losing their own in the act. Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant. We live in this type of world. The Generation X or Millennials as they are called have many characteristics and traits that can be disheartening namely the sense of entitlement. To be given yet give nothing back. However, one characteristic widely noted in many articles is that this generation will turn back to “religion”. I find that very encouraging in the midst of negativity and the obvious demise in this world, that there is a generation whose hearts are convinced that there is more to life than this and are willing to go after it. I know some of these young people. I feel very blessed.
The Presence of God is the life-giving and life-changing power invested in us by God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. If asked to describe the “feeling” associated with experiencing and encountering God in such a way will be laced with emotion and indescribable effects. If we are to show this generation and the next where to find God, we must discover the Presence of God in a real, tangible and practical way that allows us to demonstrate is applicability to life. To put it simply, we make it super spooky spiritual. Why? Because truthfully, few seek His Presence on a personal level so there is not possible way to explain something we have not experienced or do not know. My greatest desire is to live daily in the Presence of God. His Grace “daily loads us with benefits”. (Psalm 68:19)
Psalm 84:10-11 (NKJV)
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Many will claim this verse today without ever reading the verse before it that tells us exactly where to find His Goodness. It is in His Presence. God does not come and live in our present. It is our presence in His Courts that promote all the spiritual blessings that He promised. If God put one fingertip on this planet, its corruption would cause it to melt like wax. We cannot comprehend such righteousness, justice and goodness because we have never experienced it in our innate sinful condition. It is our personal pursuit of His Kingdom and to live in the righteousness of salvation through daily repentance and turning our life toward His Way, His Will according to His Word that allows us to experience hope in a world filled with disappointment.
My husband earned an all-expense paid trip to Mexico. We just came back. Arriving at the resort, we were greeted with opulence and luxury. We enjoyed our time away together tremendously. However, if I were choosing a destination for my own vacation that “I” was paying for – I would not go to Mexico. I have been to other locations that I enjoyed more and would spend my own hard-earned money to travel back to. Do not be offended. This is not about any particular place but a personal choice. When things are given to us, we sometimes take it for granted. But when it comes at our own sacrifice, we consider it differently and expect more for our money.
Salvation is completely free. We cannot earn God’s Grace and Unmerited Favor but receive it form His Son, Jesus Christ. He is Immanuel. God with us. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23) The Law never made us righteous just pointed out how sinful we are. (Romans 3:20-23) God gave us Jesus who in turn released His Spirit to us so that we could become righteous and restore a peaceful relationship between God and His People again. (Romans 8:2-4) We are given total freedom in Jesus Christ to live where we choose and how we choose. (John 8:36) Some decide to try to incorporate God in their life unwilling to change the course of life but rather allow God access to some of it. But in order to live in His Presence means that we must be present in His Kingdom. To experience the Presence of God and all of His Glory means we must leave this world, life and sin behind to come boldly into His Presence. There is a difference. God will not change our circumstances. The Lord changes us. (Romans 5:1-5) But He takes all our trials, tribulations, mistakes, failures, faults and imperfections using each situation and circumstance to build our faith, solidify our hope, change our character to be more like Him and build our relationship with Him. We discover His Power and our potential by choosing to go to God rather than always waiting for Him get us out of our mess.
I am married. I have been for a very long time. He is my best friend. He is my soul mate. A good marriage takes a whole lot of work and a whole lot of Jesus to be successful. It means that I cannot always have my own way. I cannot always do my own thing. I cannot always think about me. If I did, my marriage would end. Our partnership is based on bringing all that we are to the table in exchange for all of our spouse. To withhold anything from our marriage covenant is to sign its death certificate. Our relationship to Jesus is a betrothal. He is our Bridegroom and we are His Bride. How can we not honor that relationship even more than our natural ones and expect Him to still want us when He comes?
Galatians 2:20-21 (NKJV)
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Christ lives in me. I cannot set grace aside for a single moment as meaningless and honor Him with my life. It is a contradiction. It is the consideration of His Grace, Mercy and Love that I should make my choices throughout the day. If I want to be present in this relationship and live in His Presence, I must pay attention to things that I say and do. Faith must be genuine. True faith cannot discount the price paid for our life by entertaining sin and dancing in the darkness of life. Demons flee from the Presence of God, they are not attracted to it. (Luke 4:33-35) The Love of God should motivate and dictate my life if it is a relationship that I seek with Him. The acceptance of righteousness is confirmed when I embrace it and apply it to my life otherwise it is merely infatuation with no commitment at all.
Ephesians 4:25-32 (NKJV)
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 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.
Yes, it absolutely matters how we live. Our heart and mind must be motivated by the prosperity of our soul in Jesus Christ in order to live in the Presence of God each day. We must not grieve the Holy Spirit. I tried to cut down this passage to just a few verses. I just couldn’t. We have to learn to deal with sin and stop using grace as an excuse. We must strive to live apart from sin and come out of the darkness. To live in God’s Presence and be present in our relationship with Jesus is a daily choice. It is a commitment of all time, energy and efforts. His Grace is enough. Certainly to cover our sin and shame. But I want more out of life than just to make it through, I want to experience all those benefits that the Lord “loads” in my life each day. I cannot take for granted for a single moment that God’s Spirit lives in me. He is my helper. He is my educator. He is my guide. Does my life welcome His Assistance or shut Him away in my heart?
Romans 8:23-27 (NKJV)
Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Probably the most difficult thing about living in the Presence of God is making it a choice. We can be so distracted. It happens all the time. The enemy takes advantage of our best intentions even using our “doing” and “serving” against us when it steals time in God’s Presence. We do not allow cellphones at the dinner table. We turn off the television. It gives us quality time with our kids. The table is dwindling. It used to overflow but now just four people join together. This time is precious. Yet we take our phone with us everywhere we go even church and our prayer closet afraid that we will miss something important. Friend, there is nothing more important than our relationship with God through Jesus Christ and His Spirit. Nothing.
We are God’s Children. He has saved us from our sin. He has given us a new life with new opportunities. We cannot let the enemy take them from us by sinking back to old ways. We are not entitled to God’s Grace. His Love could not watch us suffer, die and be tormented forever. His Love always us to make a choice. Will we choose to be present in our friendship with the Lord today? Or not? I choose to be present today – Jesus. Help me find the way!
Hebrews 10:23-24 (NKJV)
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.