September 22

Encountering God through the Receiving of His Presence

Introduction

Many of us know God’s presence is always available to us, but rarely do we take a second to become aware of how near he truly is. Today we’ll explore what it means to encounter God through receiving his presence. This simple concept has radically changed my life, and it is my prayer it changes yours too. May we learn to practice God’s presence on a regular basis and see his goodness flood our lives.

Scripture

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7

Worship

Abba | Jonathan & Melissa Helser

Abba (Official Lyric Video) – Jonathan & Melissa Helser | Beautiful Surrender

Abba, Official Lyric Video from “Beautiful Surrender.” Get it on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/beautiful-surrender or the Bethel Music Store: http://www.bethelmusic.com/store/product/beautiful-surrender Bethel Music’s collective of worship leaders aim to write and record songs that carry the culture of heaven and the heart of God. We exist to pursue the heart of God.

Devotional

God’s presence has been made fully available to us by the sacrifice of Jesus, our pure and spotless Lamb. When we become Christians we are made totally new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” We are now able to fellowship with the presence of God in a closer and more intimate way than any people of God before the coming of Christ. We can now have God himself dwelling within us, his very Spirit fellowshipping with ours.

Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” To be filled with the Spirit is not a suggestion, it is a command. We as believers must continually be filled with the Spirit in order to access the fullness of relationship and life available to us on this earth. We need God’s presence as sojourners on this earth. We need God’s Spirit dwelling within us to live out the wonderful, life-giving commands of Scripture. We need God’s Spirit to experience the fullness of God’s presence available to us through the powerful sacrifice of Jesus.

You see, God’s presence is already here. Psalm 139:7-12 says,

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

You don’t have to beg for an experience with God. He doesn’t have to come from on high to the earth in order for you to encounter him. All that we have to do is quiet our hearts, align ourselves with the truth that he is here and available to us, and receive him. God never forces himself upon us. He never makes us have any part of him. But once we open our hearts to him and ask to encounter him, he is willing and able to fill us with his glorious presence. He is ready to make us aware of just how near to us he has always been—that he is closer than the very air we breathe.

Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” May you come to know to greater levels the fullness of joy and pleasure available to you in the presence of your living and active God. May you grow in your awareness of the nearness and unconditional love of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you. May you receive God’s presence throughout your day today and encounter the joy of the God who would lay down his own life simply for you to know him.

Prayer

1. Meditate on the nearness of God’s presence. Allow Scripture to fill you with the desire and faith to encounter God today.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Psalm 139:7-12

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52

2. Take a minute to quiet your heart and mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you receive God’s presence. Take note of any desires you have as to whether you should sit quietly, worship, read, or pray. Follow whatever desire you have that will lead you into an encounter with God.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

3. Open your heart and simply receive the presence of the God who already dwells within you. Ask the Holy Spirit to make his presence known to you. Take time to rest in an encounter with God’s love and affection over you.

“All were made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

Go

In his book The Furious Longing of God, Brennan Manning describes a method of prayer that has helped me greatly in learning what it is to enter into God’s presence. He says to pray this simple prayer: “Abba, I belong to you.” As you inhale, pray the word “Abba.” As you exhale, pray, “I belong to you.” This idea of breathing and praying is an incredible depiction of what it is to receive the presence of God. He is nearer to us than the very breath that fills our lungs, and he will always respond to our desire to be filled with him. May this practice of God’s presence fill you with a greater awareness of how real and near your God is to you today.


Extended Reading: Psalm 16
or watch The Bible Project’s video on Psalms.