Sunday, 11 April 2021

In His Presence

 Scripture:  Isaiah 64 v 1 - 4: "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,

2  As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! 
3  When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.
4  For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."

Words are inadequate to describe being in the presence of our Lord Jesus.  The very air around us is supercharged with something that is foreign to this world.  We don't have to wonder what it is, if we know Him, it can only be Him who has graced us with His presence.

About ten years ago I was in England for a few weeks and I was overcome with a malady, a weakness in my physical body, an inability to eat or keep food down.  I knew it was not something a doctor could fix, I was deep in intercession and it lasted about 3 weeks.  I eventually went to the local hospital and part of the tests they did was to draw blood.  They had already noted my blood pressure was high but they really battled to withdraw blood from my arm. 

Eventually the person trying to fill 3 syringes with my reluctant blood was milking my arm like a cow's udder.  It was really painful.  However, the moment she had succeeded, I was completely healed.  Everything that was wrong had been morphed into those 3 vials of blood and extracted from me.  So I went back to my accommodation very happy.

The next day my hostess brought me some red grape juice and a small roll and we had Communion together.  Immediately after taking it I was caught up into the presence of God, there was a gospel song we had been listening to and I saw a vision of me skating on ice with Jesus.  It was a natural frozen lake with the tops of shrubs sticking up, which we flowed around in perfect harmony, like Torville and Dean doing Bolero.  During this amazing communion with Jesus all my strength returned.  I would happily endure another three weeks of weakness for another hour like that!

The true presence of the Lord cannot be manufactured, but as He said, I will always be with you, then we are always in His presence.  We don't always feel it but if it were gone we would feel that.  

I was moving into a new house and the previous owner kindly allowed me to line the shelves of the cupboards she had packed.  I had been complaining to God that I could not feel His presence for a few days.  Suddenly He totally removed His presence, it was (thankfully) for less than a minute but it was the most horrible feeling of death and despair, utter hopelessness and emptiness.  I heard Him clearly say, Never complain that I am not with you, I am always here!  That was in 1980 and I am thankful never to have lost His presence again.

So if it seems that these blogs are heavy at times concerning the consequences of sin and disobedience to God, it is to spare anyone from having that awful dark feeling for eternity.  For spiritual death is the total absence of God and that's what Hell really is.  And it is without a second chance.  We have to be right with God in the here and now, its not a debatable issue.  Mistakes cannot be rectified later.

Many people seem unaware of the danger of committing their lives to follow Jesus Christ but playing with fire in keeping one foot in the World and the other on a banana skin.  The World is full of hidden traps and its so easy to justify our sliding back into habits that defile us.  They seem harmless at the time but lead to other things that cut us off from His presence.  And it seems to be so hard to find Him again.

We all have a free will and if we surrender it to Satan, as Adam and Eve did in Eden, then we find ourselves out in the cold, seeing the consequences of our folly but our minds cannot work out the solution.  The snake is like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of us.  The life of Jesus within us squandered for the enticement of sex, drugs, rock and roll.  It's why God hated Esau, he gave up his birthright for a plate of food.

In today's world through social media, lockdown and pandemic fears, the enticement comes to us undiluted and is available at any hour of the day.  Our cell phones contain the passport to all our dreams and occupy much of our lives to the exclusion of time with the Lord.  

To enjoy His presence takes discipline, faith and true love for Him.  Our mission is to win souls to His Kingdom by any good means.  Let's use our ever present cell phones to share the gospel, or these blogs, or to meet the needs of those struggling financially, spiritually, with their health or family traumas.  Turn them into vessels of honour and delete everything shameful.

Our God wants our full attention, not the crumbs that fall off the table.  He has given us everything we need to be saved, now He needs some effort from us to stay in His Presence and not wander off into darkness.  Jesus gave His all, leaving Heaven to be made vulnerable on Earth, to dying a cruel death, for us.

If a friend saved your life by throwing himself in front of a bullet meant for you, how would you want to repay him?  What wouldn't you do to show your appreciation?  What if you really deserved to die and your friend died in your place?  Would you make sure his family were cared for?  Apply your answers to your salvation by the death of Jesus.  God expects no less from us.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, You respond to us in the way we treat other people.  If we show love to the undeserving, we get a greater awareness of Your love for us.  When we see ourselves as lost and without hope until Jesus rescued us, then Your forgiveness and mercy uplifted us.  Let us always be humble to enjoy Your presence and grace from now through eternity.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.